FUGI­TIVES

Geist - - Residue -

This project be­gan for us while work­ing in the Chicago Field Mu­seum in 2013. The trace of a pas­tel draw­ing im­printed on the in­side of a manila folder in­spired us to look for ac­tive ma­te­ri­als in archives closer to home. In 2017 we be­gan work­ing at the Bri­tish Columbia Pro­vin­cial Ar­chive in Vic­to­ria, BC. There, Ann ten Cate, an ar­chiv­ist, and Em­ber Lund­gren, a preser­va­tion spe­cial­ist, walked us through the stacks, lead­ing us to com­pelling ob­jects and telling their sto­ries. Ann re­ferred to these ob­jects as fugi­tives, which quickly be­came the foun­da­tion of our project. We gath­ered these fugi­tives and brought them to a makeshift pho­tog­ra­phy stu­dio we cre­ated ad­ja­cent to the pub­lic archival re­search room.

We found that like Dick’s an­droids, things in archives be­come fugi­tive in mul­ti­ple ways. They may be (1) deemed to ex­ist out­side of the logic of the ar­chive, ex­iled, with­out prove­nance or doc­u­men­ta­tion, or (2) an anom­aly with prove­nance or ma­te­rial com­po­si­tion that poses a threat to the ar­chive or to ar­chiv­ists them­selves. An item can be­come fugi­tive if (3) the ar­chiv­ist de­ter­mines that it is no longer of value, and there­fore an­ar­chival, and by the same turn can be made archival again if new value is at­tached to it. It can also (4) be­come fugi­tive by na­ture of its in­evitable ma­te­rial trans­for­ma­tion, so that it lit­er­ally can­not be pre­served. Fugi­tiv­ity is a form of an­ar­chival ma­te­ri­al­ity that helps us to ex­plore al­ter­nate or­ga­ni­za­tions within—and un­der­stand­ings of—archives. Fugi­tives make the state of change in archives visible.

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