Unfolding The Archive
In 2015 Floating World presented ‘Unfolding The Archive’, large scale exhibitions at the NCAD Gallery in Dublin and the F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio in Bannbridge Co. Down.
‘Unfolding the Archive’ set out to investigate the archives at The National Irish Visual Arts Library (NIVAL) and explore the richness of the archive as a starting point for the creation of new artworks. Floating World’s artists developed new narratives in response to objects in the archive which are both local and international in their resonance.
Each artist approached the archive from a purely personal and individual standpoint and in a manner that reflects their concerns and interests. These ranged from purely visual investigations, to highly conceptual interpretations of the archive as a multilayered and shifting source of information and meaning.
Participating Artists: Glenn Holman, Glynis Candler, Sarah Carne, Edwin Aitken, Simon Burton and James Fisher, Andy Parsons, Elizabeth Kinsella, Diane Henshaw, Niamh O’Connor, Hidehiko Ishibashi.
The exhibition was curated by Donna Romano, Librarian at NCAD and Dr. Riann Coulter, Curator of the F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio.
The following short introduction to the exhibition is from the Catalogue to the exhibition, a digital copy of which is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
“You cannot open a book without learning something.”
When we founded Floating World in 2003, we had little real idea of the trajectory of the project that we were engaged in, or the central importance it would come to have in our practice as artists. The Artists Book can seem on first sight a slight and marginal art work, but it can provide a unique format for communicating complex ideas and creating rich and personal works that unfold in the viewers mind in the same way as a piece of literature creates a world into which the reader can step. Central to the development of Floating World has been our wish to put the Artists Book centre stage and to afford it the same status as other strands of contemporary practice. Our engagement with the National Irish Visual Arts Library and the F.E. McWilliam Gallery, Banbridge and the resulting exhibitions are our most important and challenging project yet.
The archive at NIVAL and the F.E. McWilliam Gallery has undoubted value as a source of research from an academic point of view. These exhibitions set out to explore the richness of the archive as a starting point for the creation of new artworks.
Floating World’s artists, who are based in Ireland, the UK and Japan, have developed new narratives from objects in the archive which are both local and international in their resonance. Each artist has approached the archive from a purely personal and individual standpoint and in manner that reflects their concerns and interests. These range from purely visual investigations, to highly conceptual interpretations of the archive as a multi- layered and shifting source of information and meaning. On visiting the NIVAL collection, you are struck by diversity and density of information contained within the archive. There is no hierarchy in the cataloguing and organisation of the objects,they are given equal significance. Some items have immediate visual or historical appeal, other parts of the collection could be easily overlooked or marginalised. Investigating the collection has an archaeological aspect, where each item had to be considered with care and ascribed significance. Floating World has tried to respond to the archive in a way that brings fresh insight in to the works selected that opens up further discourse and investigation. We hope the resulting exhibitions are a validation of the importance of preserving cultural histories and the role that both NIVAL and the F.E. McWilliam Gallery has in collecting and archiving these for future generations of artists.
Glenn Holman & Andy Parsons 2015
From the Catalogue of Unfolding The Archive: Floating World artists
respond to the collections at NIVAL and the F.E. McWilliam Gallery.
Donna Romano, Head Librarian at NIVAL at the National College of Art & Design, recently wrote this article in the Art Libraries Journal, which explores the project in more detail. and Studio.
*Romano, D, 2018. In the service of artists – symbiosis and creative engagement in collection development strategy at NIVAL: National Irish Visual Arts Library. Art Libraries Journal, 43/3, 127-136.