Since last spring, we’ve been building towards a new series of work for a show at Modern Fuel in Kingston, Ontario. The show, entitled, “Archival Tendencies (Lossy Practices)” is a collection of installations that play with the notions of archiving and our relationship with it. We came up with 6 pieces that we wanted to create for this show — it all started at the Queen’s University Archives in Kingston, Ontario.
We were lucky enough to be given a tour by Jeremy Heil, a technical services archivist for Queen’s University. He shared with us an amazing amount of knowledge about the process of archiving, different types of archives, and the storing process for the archives.
Some of the storage units.
Justin engulfed by boxes and boxes of archives.
The trip to the archives sparked our minds and we started to research…a lot. Notes upon notes began to accumulate so we thought it would be best to take a break.
We decided to visit Modern Fuel and scope out the space and get an idea spatially of what we could create in the gallery. By the end of our short trip to Kingston, we had a good feeling about what we wanted to do and a set of 6 pieces that we wanted to make.
It became apparent from early on that we didn’t want the exhibition to challenge current modes of archiving, but instead articulate different ways we could be viewing arching on an individual and societal level.
Soon after, we started to accumulate the materials we needed. The first piece we started to build was “What Fails With Time?” — this is a text piece that is made out of salvaged wood.
Andy and I found an ad on Kijiji for free salvaged wood in Kingville. The textures and colours were so amazing, we grabbed as many pieces as we could. The wood used to be an old barn that was recently torn down.
The second piece is “The Archive of Wishful Thinking”. This series of magnetic letters allows for participants to spell out things that they hope to remember, but is also constantly in flux because the next person can add on, erase, or re-write the statement.
We spray painted the letters gold so they would have a nice contrast against the black magnetic paint they would be sitting on.
For another piece, we decided to cut out physical versions of the flagging system we use online when we want to remember a specific site or want to archive it as important to us.
Lots of cutting involved.
Staking and packing.
Our infamous jigjaw was brought back to work.
Cutting out the letters.
Cross-country collaborating with Justin on this one — a perforated booklet filled with posters that are suggestive of things we should make an effort to remember…or not.
“Solid State Storage” is 3 banker boxes made from styrofoam and concrete. The original idea was to have them made of solid concrete but the weight would have made them almost impossible to haul all the way to Kingston. We decided to make the base from styrofoam so that some of the weight could be eliminated.
The cement adheres really well to styrofoam so this made applying the layers really easy.
Filled to the rim.
Packed and ready to go.
Alongside the banker boxes, we wanted to create an object that destroys records in a slow, gruelling manor, so we thought a humidifier hooked up to a filing cabinet would do just that. We used the hand-held saw to cut out holes so the tubbing could connect the humidity directly to the filing cabinet.
The saw melted the plastic right off.
The first hole made in the filing cabinet.
We decided to make one hole in the top and one along the side.
Side by side.
With everything packed and ready to go, we made our way up to Kingston and started a long week of install.
AN UNOFFICIAL ENTRY.
As we unloaded and starting to put things up, the space seemed overwhelmingly chaotic and reminded me a lot of what the space looked like from our exhibition in Halifax two years prior.
Building a shelf for the booklets.
Superglue is an amazing thing.
Hanging the magnetic panels.
First piece up.
Andy looking for the right letters.
In the future we will want to remember ________.
Final touch-ups and sanding for our banker boxes.
The secret cemented file.
“Make a Mark (Notating Importance)” is a grid of 175 flags cut out chip board that are suggestive of flagging or noting space or places that are important and should be archived. It’s the physical version of the digital flag system.
“Solid State Storage”
And it’s on!
Feeling the humidity come through.
Making sure it’s properly sealed.
Placing the “Authorization for Destruction of Records” applications on top.
What record would you want to destroy?
The files to be destroyed.
First record to be destroyed — one of my memories.
“For Unsafe Keeping (Time-Limited Archiving System)”
“Expressions of Power (A Ready-to-Distribute Set of Positions in Relation to Time)”
Ready for the opening.
The director of Modern Fuel, Kevin Rodgers, fills out a file for destruction.
Conversations and concrete boxes.
In the next room over from the main exhibition space is Christine Dewancker’s show entitled “All You Ever Wanted”.
Christine Dewancker’s (above) practice examines the physical and psychological effects of the spaces we occupy: how constructed environments inform our experiences and relationships with one another, what produces public consciousness and how this is created and reproduced by our everyday activities. Her recent series ALL YOU EVER WANTED began with conversations with residents in the spring of 2013, in which discussions were carried out regarding sites of development and potential in Kingston neighbourhoods. The title phrase evokes subjective desires, and offers an optimistic gesture of totality. When placed in a physical environment, it proposes various readings of that space while also embodying an impossible idea that can never be fully realized.
Playing with memories.
Things we hope to remember.
I got to give a mini tour of the show and speak about the pieces and process we took to make each one.
Thank you to everyone at Modern Fuel for being so supportive and helping us make this happen.
“Archival Tendencies (Lossy Practices) runs from October 19th – November 30th at Modern Fuel in Kingston, Ontario.
We would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.