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Sketches on graph paper

Archival documentation has taken on increasing importance in the production and presentation of contemporary art. Documents often replace traditional art objects in exhibitions of conceptual and performance art, and other dematerialized practices, while many artists incorporate archival research into their working methods.

The panelists will discuss how distinctions can be made between art and archival materials, and the nature of the gray area that sometimes exists between these two categories. Among the questions raised: How do archivists and archival repositories meet the demands of curators and artists, as well as traditional researchers, and does the status of archival materials change along with changing usages? Have these developments dethroned the art object, as promised by Conceptualism, or simply elevated the archive? What might be lost when a document is reclassified as a work of art? And in embracing archival documents, what might curators have to learn from archival practice and theory?

In this panel discussion, the complex relationship between artworks and archival documents will be examined from the perspectives of archival processing and research, curation, and artistic practice.


Anna Gurton-Wachter, Archivist, The Keith Haring Foundation
Kate Haw, Director, Archives of American Art
Melissa Rachleff Burtt, Independent Curator, and Clinical Associate Professor of Visual Arts Administration, New York University
Paul Ramírez Jonas, Artist, and Associate Professor, Hunter College, CUNY


Julia Pelta Feldman, Former Dedalus Fellow in the Museum of Modern Art Archives, and PhD candidate, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

Document or Artwork? A Panel Discussion on Archives in the Art World