The Irish Artist-Led Archive
The Artist-led Archive - Sustainable Activism and the Embrace of Flux is an archive project initiated by the artist and curator Megs Morley in 2006 as part of an on-going investigation into artist-led initiatives in Ireland. The project aimed to decipher the kind of cultural conditions that led to artist-led initiative’s birth, their economic independence (or lack of), their organizational structures and how all of these factors effected their activities and life spans.
As an archival project and touring exhibition (2006-2008), The Artist-led Archive sought to investigate, activate and inform artist-led culture in Ireland by collecting and presenting examples of works and documents from artists organisations, groups, and collectives working in Ireland (North and South) from the 1970’s to the present day, a period marking significant economic, social and political change in Ireland. Comprising of an interactive archive, commissioned art works, installations, video & films, photography, sonic works and constitutive documents gathered from both Southern and Northern Irish artist-led initiatives over the past 40 years, these documents provide a unique insight into the variations and similarities between initiatives operating at different periods and within distinct contexts across Ireland, acknowledging past initiatives work and exposing the roots of some of our oldest cultural vehicles.
The Artist-led Archive used a variety of live archiving strategies to initiate dialogue and debate into artist-led culture and was involved in many live events and initiatives across Ireland between 2006-2008 as the Artist-led Archive exhibition toured. Methods in collecting information included; live presentations, focus groups, roundtable discussions, symposiums, the commissioning of installations and performance art works and word of mouth. These strategies served to socially collect and transfer information and initiate dialogue around the critical ideas, pragmatic issues and socio-political contexts of artist-led culture in Ireland.
As a moving platform for discussion the Artist-led Archive attempted to initiate and inform interest in artist-led culture in localized contexts by providing a national and international context for such activities. Contributors included; Julie Ault (Group Material, NY), Rachel Bradley & Julie Crawshaw (Midwest.co.uk UK), Catalyst Arts (NI) Ben Geoghegan & Niall Moore (G126 IRE), Daniel Jewsbury (Factotum & the Vacuum NI), KDFS (IRE), Aileen Lambert & Mick Fortune (Real Art Project IRE), Sean Lynch, Brian Patterson & Rainer Pagel (Art, Research & Exchange NI), Deirdre O’Mahony (the Xpo, IRE), Lise Skou (UKK- Young Danish Artworkers DK).
The Artist-led Archive- Sustainable Activism and the Embrace of Flux exhibition was launched in the Galway Arts Centre on 9th November 2007 and subsequently toured to Catalyst Arts, in Belfast (April 2008) the Lab, Dublin (June- July 2008) and was hosted by “Sligo Local” by the Model, Sligo in April 2009.
The Artist-led Archive comprises of documents relating to 76 artist-led initiatives and is currently housed in the National Irish Visual Arts Library (NIVAL) in the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) Dublin, as part of their special collections. NIVAL maintains a policy of maximum accessibility to the collections, and access to the collection is free and available without appointment.
It is envisioned that the Artist-led Archive will be infinitely malleable and continue to evolve and change form according to the environment it finds itself in, whether used as a formal research resource as in NIVAL, or on tour as a contemporary art exhibition, as a moving platform of information the Artist-led Archive will continue to aim to;
activate, initiate and inform artist-led culture in localized contexts by providing a national and international context for artist-led activities.