Objects and Affects: Artists and the Ethnographic Archive | ACTIVATE | Research Center for Material Culture
26 April 2017

Objects and Affects: Artists and the Ethnographic Archive

ACTIVATE Seminar | 26 Apr | RCMC

Ethnographic collections are spaces for histories of relations, colonial relations, knowledges, desires, lifeworlds, materials, and techniques. RCMC has invited students of the Master in Artistic Research (KABK) to interpret our ethnographic collections in new ways and to create new works inspired by them. During this seminar their works will be presented, performed and discussed.

The Ethnographic Archive

The ethnographic archive is a particular kind of historical reservoir: it is an anthropological and artistic legacy, but also a legacy of colonialism and its technologies of power, inextricably linked to systems of control. This seminar invites artists and academics to explore the relevance and potential of ethnographic archives - including objects, photographs, and sounds - for contemporary makers. What is the agency of objects in ethnographic collections, how do they bring us into action, into relations; how do they affect us? What complex histories and intentionalities do these objects embody? In our modern life it seems to be hard to experience enchantment. Thinking with Jane Bennett, who challenges this view, we question: how can objects be a source of enchantment? How can they inspire, captivate and disturb? What might be the relation between the creative imagination and the archive? And what are the ethical implications when artists activate and intervene in ethnographic archives?


Introduction: Prof. dr. Wayne Modest (head Research Center for Material Culture)

  • Speaker: Vincent Vulsma (artist)
  • Respondant: Jasper Coppes

Viewing/performance of student works

  • Speaker: Sara Blokland (artist, curator, researcher)
  • Speaker: Dr. Margaret Tali (researcher and curator) 

Panel discussion: Yuki Kihara (artist), Mirjam Linschooten (artist), and speakers

Moderator: Janice McNab (head of Department, Masters of Artistic Research KABK)

See some of the Student Works.

The seminar is part of a collaboration between The Royal Academy of Art and the RCMC. 

Programmer: Liza Swaving