Arianna Arcara and Luca Santese
The artists featured in Archive State use found photographs and digital imagery to investigate significant political and economic transitions specific to particular places—the epicenter of the twentieth century auto industry in decline, China’s burgeoning capital city, young American soldiers in a war zone, an oppressive East German state, and the activities of apolitical Arab youth on the eve of the Arab Spring. Whether the artists collect discarded photographs, work with state-run photographic archives, or create montages of videos posted to the internet, they all appropriate the original contexts of selected images and use them for a new purpose. Playing with histories, both public and private, Arianna Arcara and Luca Santese, Simon Menner, David Oresick, Thomas Sauvin, and Akram Zaatari complicate issues of authorship and original intent. The artists sift through vast archives to expose unique portals into individual stories, offering insights into prevailing cultural narratives while at times also standing in contrast to them. Archives are assembled by individuals, and their tones vary. While one coldly documents surveillance, another portrays the traumas of war. One sinister, the other sensitive, both reveal how anonymous narratives become not only useful documents but also tender stories of shared history.
Support for Archive State is provided by the Italian Cultural Institute Chicago and the Goethe-Institut Chicago.