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Critical addresses. The archive-in-practice
Edited by Leora Farber & Claire Jorgensen, 2016
Published by The Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre (VIAD), Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg
ISBN No: 978-1-4314-2513-6

The volume Critical Addresses. The Archive-in-Practice brings together a collection of essays in which authors trace how visual artists and theorists critically reflect on institutional and personal archives by using its fragments in ways that potentially create new forms of engagement for the construction of identities, subjectivities and agencies. Authors in this volume consider the archive as a repository of traces, which have the potential to be destabilised, thus signalling the construction at work in any single account of a historical narrative and remembrance. Processes of ‘making’, ‘unmaking’ and ‘referencing’ are effected through multiple exchanges between the subjectivities of the writer, visual or archival practitioner and the spectres, ghosts and shadows of those subjectivities that haunt the archive itself.

Critical Addresses. The Archive-in-Practice adds to a vast context of scholarly work done on the archive as a key site of inquiry in fields, such as anthropology, critical theory, history and visual art, through its specific focus on visual archives, and primarily those archives in which lens-based technologies are deployed. Given the significance of political and personal forms of archiving practices in postapartheid South Africa, and the possibilities that re-examinations of these archives hold for social transformation and the realisation of justice, the volume is focused on South African and African archives and ways in which South African artists and authors are engaging with these.

This publication is in response to the Past Imperfect // Future Present exhibition, held at FADA Gallery in 2015.

The Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre (VIAD), based at the University of Johannesburg, explores the construction of multiple forms of politicised socio-economic-cultural individual and collective identities within visual practice and visual culture. Work done under VIAD’s auspices explores ways in which identities are conceptualised, imagined, expressed, challenged, performed, marketed, disseminated, received and consumed in the visual domain, with a particular emphasis placed on research in postapartheid, postcolonial South African cultural identities in continual processes of emergence, development and flux.


Leora Farber is Associate Professor and Director of the VIAD Research Centre, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg.

Claire Jorgensen is a visual culture researcher and former project manager at VIAD.