Happy International Archives Day! The EAC explored memory and heritage over the past two years with the Saudade project, in which ten artists each delved into our archive for inspiration and then created a piece of art based on an archival piece or collection. They described their artistic processes on the project blog, which you can find on the official Saudade Website.
Christopher Squier, an artist from San Francisco, California explored photographs in the EAC's collection and their connection to memory:
At the beginning of a project, it’s difficult for me not to overdetermine the form of the final piece. One asset in this case was the nature of the archive: a piecemeal sampling of different stories, full of gaps, and which doesn’t follow a linear path or narrative. Natalie brought up a description I really like, that the experience of going through the archive was “hallucinogenic.” It was full of disconnected imagery and focused on momentary personal details. Some of those descriptions and images I remember were of a lodge in the mountains of Venezuela, a black-and-white postcard showing an ocean liner in front of palm trees, a series of photographs of orchids and lilies in an unidentified foreign country, and lots of descriptions of illness and irritation experienced during travels with a young, leaky child.
Monique Prinsloo, an artist from Durban, South Africa, chose the medium for her art piece because of its connection to human memory:
The role of time and its imminent disintegration, the loss of information, and the loss of memory itself becomes prominent when one considers an object from an archive, and my point of departure for the Saudade project was strongly influenced by this idea. Considering the fact that I could not in any way authentically experience the events captured in the super 8 film from Archive 1.0019, I proceeded by focussing on the cutaways; sketching impressions from the film stills. These sketches became the driving force behind my monotype series for the Saudade project. I decided on the monotype medium because of its key characteristic: no two prints end up being perfectly alike, and consequently it makes editioning impossible. So too with memory; two or more accounts of a single event can never be identical, however similar the narrative may seem. Furthermore, the monotype process perfectly aided in producing imagery from bold to ethereal; a distinct print to a ghost impression; and triggering the moment of remembering to forgetting.
Interviews with the other eight artists, as well as beautiful images of their art and the archival pieces that inspired it can be found in the Saudade book.