Call for Proposals for Symposium on Mixed-media Archives and Contemporary Art History

The Multi-Media Archive: Stewardship and Use of Audiovisual Media Documenting Contemporary Art History
March 27, 2015, Washington, D.C.

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Artist book based on the Triadic Tapes, 1976. Paul Ryan papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Detail from artist book based on the Triadic Tapes, 1976. Paul Ryan papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

The Archives of American Art announces an upcoming symposium, “The Multi-Media Archive: Stewardship and Use of Audiovisual Media Documenting Contemporary Art History,” to be held at the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture, in Washington D.C., on Friday, March 27.

This symposium is a culminating event for the Archives of American Art’s 3-year project Uncovering Hidden Audiovisual Media Documenting Postmodern Art. The project collections document a period of contemporary American art when ephemeral and dynamic new art forms and means for documenting art were emerging in art communities and spaces across the country. The audiovisual materials in these collections are rare archival resources that uniquely document this recent art history, but gaps in archival standards and best practices for documenting audiovisual media found in archival repositories have often left this material hidden and unavailable to Archives users.

The symposium will bring together the two sides of the archival repository’s community—archivists and people who use archives—to consider the complexities and possibilities of audiovisual recordings that form part of the archival record of contemporary American art history.

We seek proposals for participation in two roundtable discussions:

  • an archivists’ roundtable, discussing strategies for providing access to mixed-media archival collections
  • a researchers’ roundtable, featuring voices from a variety of disciplines—art or cultural history,fine art, journalism, conservation, or higher education, to name a few possibilities—on the significance of historical sound, video, and film to their work

Roundtable participants will present brief remarks individually to introduce their work and thinking on this subject, to be followed by a moderated discussion. How do the keepers of mixed-media archives ensure their obsolete audiovisual recordings are discoverable and accessible to those who want to use them? What is the potential impact of reliable access to these unique archival sound recordings and moving images for researchers?

The roundtables will be followed by a reception and a special screening of film and video works discovered in the project collections.

More details of the event will be announced on a forthcoming symposium website. See the project website for more information about the Archives’ “Hidden Collections” project, including descriptions of project collections. A small stipend and travel reimbursement is available for accepted speakers.

Please send a proposal relating this subject matter to your own work in an abstract no longer than 250 words to AAAsymposium@si.edu. The deadline for submissions is January 23, 2015. Questions can be sent via e-mail to project archivist Megan McShea at mcsheam@si.edu.

This symposium is generously funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Hidden Collections” grant program.