Emma Letki, one of this year’s Rhubarb interns, discusses a generation of impulse archivists and the act of communicating a memory.
In its 35th year, Rhubarb is looking at archives, but it is really questioning the nature of archives. I am quite excited to see how this year’s artists tackle this challenge. How can something ephemeral like a performance be a living record? For me, this question brings up ideas of how archive can exist outside documents, and inside the body and in our memories.
In some ways my generation are professional archivers, we are obsessed with archiving; selfies, instagram, facebook, twitter, youtube, bloging/ vloging. How many of us have creeped our own social media profiles looking for some lost moment? These bite sized documents are the unofficial record of my generation. Yet, still they are recorded very close to the time of the event they are recording. What if you waited a few days? Or a few years?
I am particularly excited for Missed Portraits because the artist is working backwards to a traditional archive. Rather than creating a document at the beginning, or during the event and then relying on a record to recalling later, Evan Tapper is asking you to pull and tug at your memory for something you miss. From that memory Tapper will then create the document. Tapper is taking a memory, something fluid, maluable, impermenant, and possibly already starting to fade, and is creating a non-ephemeral representation of it. Making a symbol, an artifact, of the tiniest moment. These documents represent a fleeting moment in your experience with that person.
Although I am undecided on how I feel about dream interpretations and palm reading, none the less I find the idea of someone interpreting these very private things completely fascinating. It comes down to how we communicate with each other. How do you tell someone about another person who is so important to you that you miss them? What about them made them special? What wordless habits and characteristics did the have? And how will you describe them to someone who has never met them? What does that reflect about you?
Working as an intern with the Rhubarb festival has taught me so much; about producing, and the life of a festival. Most importantly it has reminded me the joy and power of questioning the most seemingly mundane things. From such an accepted notion of the archive has come an amazing collection of intriguing and diverse performances. I know it has been said but this really is a fantastic group of artists with some great projects. Some of the applications may have made me tear up a bit.