Artwork for the catalogue for the exhibition Black Eyes & Lemonade, 1951. Designed by Barbara Jones. University of Brighton Design Archives.

Archive: In the making
Saturday 3 October, 09:30-16:30
Nottingham Contemporary

Who makes and holds the archive?
What is not archived, forgotten or overlooked?
How does the archive inform action?

Archive: In the Making is a day of discussions and workshops focusing on artists’ use of archive and memory as material, and mode of production. It brings together a group of artists, curators and thinkers whose work explores the possibilities of these materials to create artworks, generate discourse, invite engagement and disturb dominant narratives about the past.



9.30 – 10.00am: Arrivals & Coffee

10.00 – 12.30: Morning session – The Archive as Material
Presentations from Nayia Yakoumaki (Archive Research Curator at the Whitechapel Gallery), Janna Graham (Head of Public Programmes and Research, Nottingham Contemporary) and Kathryn Smith (Artist and Researcher). Followed by a discussion and Q&A chaired by Ben Cranfield (Lecturer in Cultural Studies, Birkbeck College London).

12.30 – 13.30: Lunch (not provided)

13.30 – 16.00 Afternoon Session – The Archive in Action
Break-out session lead by artists Barby Asante, Emma Smith and Ruth Beale offering an insight into range of practice, and different ways of responding to and working with the archive and memory.

Followed by a wrap-up session chaired by Ben Cranfield with all contributors.

16:00 – 16:30 Closing tea.

This session forms part of The Syllabus, a programme of six intensive seminars across one year, developed to support a selected group of artists, and open up public discussions around key themes in contemporary arts practice. Working in collaboration with artists-run space Primary, New Contemporaries will host the third seminar in the series to coincide with the presentation of Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2015 across Nottingham. 


Barby Asante As part of her artistic practice, Barby has explored archival material in the broadest sense from ethnographic photographs, popular ephemera, movement and embodied texts and recording stories.  With an interest in cultural representation, place and identity, her performative and dialogic practice is interested in what is missing or not told and how these missing chapters and unheard narratives inform contemporary perceptions of people of colour in the UK.  Drawing on this thinking she has recently presented The South London Black Music Archive (Peckham Platform/ Tate, 2012) a temporary archive in collecting black music stories and ephemera from people about south London’s black music scenes and Baldwin’s Nigger RELOADED (Iniva/ Nottingham Contemporary/ October Gallery 2014-15), using Horace Ove’s 1968 film as a means for a reflective re-enactment performance that considers the contemporary relevance of James Baldwin’s presentation and exploring who was in the room for that event.

Ruth Beale employs performance, discussion and archival processes to identify relationships between culture, governance, social discourse and representation.   She is co-founder of Performance as Publishing with Nicole Bachmann, and The Alternative School of Economics with Amy Feneck. Recent solo exhibitions include The Library of Future Societies at Fig.2, ICA, London, Bookbed at Peckham Platform, London, Bikes, Caves, Raves at Trade, Nottingham. She has performed and exhibited at ICA, London, Turner Contemporary, Basel Kunsthalle, MoMA Ps1, South London Gallery and Modern Art Oxford. She is currently undertaking a major new commission with Create London, working with communities in Manor Park, Newham.

Ben Cranfield is Director of the Doctoral Programme in Humanities and Cultural Studies and the MRes in Cultural Enquiry at Birkbeck, University of London. Recent articles include Between Consensus and Anxiety: Curating Transparency at the ICA of the 1950s (Journal of Curatorial Studies, 2012), ‘Not another Museum’: the search for contemporary connection (Journal of Visual Culture, 2013 forthcoming) and Students, Artists and the ICA: the revolution within? in Resurgence of the Sixties: The Continuing Relevance of the Cultural and Political Watershed (London and New York: Anthem Press, 2010). His work is concerned with questions of cultural memory, institutions, archives and curatorial form. In 2007-8 he curated the series 60 Years of Curating at the ICA, London and was contributing editor of How Soon is Now, the ICA’s 60th anniversary publication.

Janna Graham is a writer, organiser, educator and curator. She currently works as the Head of Public Programmes and Research, Nottingham Contemporary. Her work with the collectives Ultra-red and Micropolitics Research Group, involved participating in ongoing militant research projects on the conditions of cultural workers in London and pedagogies of anti-racism in England’s rural areas. She has developed education and curatorial initiatives at institutions including the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Project Art Centre (Dublin), Vanabbemuseum (Eindhoven) and Plymouth Arts Centre (UK). Janna worked as Projects Curator at Serpentine Gallery for five years where she and colleagues have initiated The Centre for Possible Studies, an off-site popular research centre and and artist residency programme where artists, thinkers and local people develop ‘possible studies’ in relation to the Edgware Road neighbourhood of London.

Emma Smith is a UK based artist. She has a social and participatory practice that explores human relation. Smith’s work is site specific and often manifests itself in the form of an event, activity or game. Smith works nationally and internationally including exhibitions at Camden Arts Centre (2006), Whitechapel Gallery (2007 & 2008), Grizedale Arts (2011), The Showroom (2011), Tate Modern (2011 & 2012), Matadero Madrid (2013), ICA (2013), Art14 (2014), Fabrikken for Kunst og Design (2014), October Gallery (2014), Museet for Religiøs Kunst, (2015), Arnolfini (2013 & 2015) and Kunstmuseum Luzern (2014 & 2015), with residency and research fellowships in Australia, Canadian Arctic, China, Denmark, India, Kenya, Latvia, Lebanon, Mauritius, Spain, Switzerland and UK. Smith was Artist Fellow of The Showroom 2011-2012 and was awarded an ACME Fire Station Residency (2010-2015). Smith is co-founder of Delta Arts, an Associate Artist of Artsadmin, and current Artist in Residence for Tyntesfield National Trust, Bristol, and Kettles Yard, Cambridge.

Kathryn Smith  is an interdisciplinary visual artist with a specialization in forensic facial identification and depiction. She is intellectually invested in spaces of risk and experimentation, through socially responsive practice, the visual culture and aesthetics of scientific investigation, and the ethics of collecting and displaying human remains in historical and modern cultures. Positioning herself at the interface of the studio/lab, the archive/library and the museum/gallery, she has curated a number of high-profile exhibitions in South African public institutions and has been commissioned to research and write several monographs and anthologies on contemporary South African art and artists. She is currently undertaking a Phd with the ‘Face Lab’ research group at Liverpool John Moores University.

Nayia Yakoumaki Presently Archive Research Curator at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, Nayia Yiakoumaki is an artist and curator. She studied Photography at the London College of Printing and is pursuing a PhD on the theme of institutional archives and their curatorial potential. Yiakoumaki has exhibited widely in Europe and her work is in the collections of the Museum of Photography (Thessaloniki) and the Museum of Design and Architecture (Chicago). Recent projects include ‘A-topia’ (Goethe Institute, Athens), ‘Trajectorias’ (Museum of Modern Art Rio de Janeiro) and the public art commission ‘Youth’ for the 2004 Athens Olympics. Prior to her current post at the Whitechapel she was Assistant Curator, Department of Visual Arts, Goldsmiths College.

Further information:

The Syllabus: Wysing Arts Centre, Eastside Projects, New Contemporaries, S1 Artspace, Spike Island and Studio Voltaire, have together developed The Syllabus; a new programme that will support ten artists across ten months. Starting in June 2015, The Syllabus provides selected UK based participants with a series of intensive seminars at each of the partner venues; to encourage enquiry into individual participants’ work, offer practical guidance on surviving as an artist, and offer ongoing access to curatorial and other staff at the partner organisations.

The artists selected for The Syllabus 2015/16 are: Simon Bayliss, Noel Clueit, Susie Green, Mathew Parkin, Rory Pilgrim, Jessica Sarah Rinland, Tom Salt, Lucy Steggals, Tom Varley and Rafal Zajko.

New Contemporaries is the leading UK organisation supporting emergent art practice from British Art Schools. Since 1949 New Contemporaries has consistently provided a critical platform for new and recent fine art graduates primarily by means of an annual, nationally touring exhibition. Independent of place and democratic to the core, New Contemporaries is open to all.


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