The Archivist’s Visit

Kay Burns

Festivals: M:ST 6 Biennial | October 15 - 27, 2012.

In conjunction with the two photo-based installations Kay Burns (Canada) has concurrently at TNG, this performance draws on the idea of the role of an archivist. The works in the exhibition are presented as collected documentation and materials of an anonymous archivist. The archivist is an ageless, nameless, genderless, timeless, institution-less, individual. We know nothing about the archivist other than what appears in the selection of presented materials. Through these projects broad questions surface regarding the impetus collect, archive, annotate, and scrutinize the lives of others and to make them public in a curious way. The archivist is fictional, as are many aspects of the content of the installations themselves, alluding to questions of who defines the truth within museum and archival contexts.

Borrowing loosely from the idea of the television series Antiques Roadshow, the unseen archivist invites people to bring in their own ‘artifact’ and leave it for three days for the archivist’s scrutiny. The archivist will create a brief ‘authenticated’ history/description of each object as per the guidelines of the Standard Protocol for Artifact Management (SPAM), which will be given to the owner of the artifact with the return of their object at a reception three days later.

The object will be received and tagged at TNG on Saturday, October 20 by the archivist’s assistant, Iris Taylor (Burns’ performance persona). The archivist’s assistant will be present to facilitate the redistribution of the artifacts at the reception also.