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Archive As Artistic Practice documents artistic works created by researchers and students in response to materials in the Flaxman Library Special Collections, exploring the library’s place at the intersection of artistic practice and archival documentation. Flaxman Library's Special Collections are a vibrant and active space that serves not only as resource for the campus community and beyond, but also functions as a lab where the production of primary work is congruent with the archival documentation of it. Mapping knowledge as an artistic practice in and of itself has become one of the core concerns for many artists. Our collections and archives have spawned numerous student and faculty projects, whether those come in the form of designed material for future grant applications, as documentary film projects, or as re-performances of existing scripts, not as an attempt to breathe life back into recordings of ephemeral events, but in the hope that seminal works from the past provide us with a fertile enough base for something entirely new to grow.

Featured Events

"Adrift In The Archives," Flaxman Library Bibliodérive, Feb. 20, 2015
During this event the Flaxman Library Special Collections provided participants with an array of unexplored objects, drawings, photographs and texts from the Randolph Street Gallery Archives. "They beg for your interpretation! Choose one or more and sing it, paint it, write it a love letter, use it as a short story prompt, perform (with) it, animate it. Reveal its hidden secrets in your own ways and translate them. All interpretations will be shared online as an alternative finding aid to help future users navigate the treacherous waters of archival research." For more information on this event visit Bibliodérive archive.

“YOUR MESSAGE HERE Redux,” Flaxman Library Bibliodérive, Feb. 24, 2017
YOUR MESSAGE HERE was a public billboard project sponsored by Randolph Street Gallery with the artist collective Group Material. From January to March 1990, around 40 billboards were posted throughout the city of Chicago. At the Spring 2017 Bibliodérive, students were invited to the Flaxman Special Collections Reading Room to view the original proposals and devise their own signs. Their messages were then posted around campus via digital signboards and distributed on social media, finally becoming part of theonline repository,. For more information on this event visit click here for the event archive.

“Re-Open the Correspondence,” Flaxman Library Bibliodérive, Feb. 24, 2017
Students were invited to view examples from Flaxman Special Collections' Mail Art collection and re-open a conversation with the correspondence artist. They were invited to remix to original and reply with their own work. Copies were then mailed to the original artist. For more information on this event visit click here for the event archive.

“P-Form Flux Redux Paper Event,” Flaxman Library Bibliodérive, Nov.30, 2017
George Maciunas, founding member of Fluxus, created a performance called Flux Paper Events which is an interpretation of Benjamin Patterson’s paper piece. During this event, Flaxman library provided participants with a score which contained a series of steps for altering the pages of a small book/magazine, along with supplies. Using extra copies of P-Form, the performance magazine from Chicago’s Randolph Street Gallery (1980s-90s), participants performed the score and created their own Paper Event in the library. This activity accompanied an informal lecture by Simon Anderson. For more information on this event visit see Flux Paper Events by George Maciunas, view the Score by Doro Boehme, or click here for the event archive.