‘I am not an archive’: Ian White and liveness
‘He uncapped a black marker and, rings clacking made a quick sketch on a pad in front of him… Lagerfeld ripped the drawing from the pad, crushed it in his hands, and tossed it into a large wicker hamper… “I throw everything away!” he declared. “…I keep no archives of my own, no sketches, no photos, no clothes – nothing! I am supposed to do, I’m not supposed to remember!”’
– Karl Lagerfeld, as quoted in Ian White’s script for Black Flags
Ian White returned insistently, in both his curating and his own art, to the idea of ‘liveness’. But this liveness turns out to be deeply paradoxical, and irreconcilable with our common conceptions about ‘live art’, authenticity, or the presence of a performer’s body. In fact, White often tended to think about liveness in relationship to prerecorded moving images.
Mike Sperlinger is a writer and curator, and currently Professor of Writing at the Oslo Academy of Fine Art. He has written numerous catalogue texts including recently for artists including Ed Atkins, Ruth Buchanan, Gerard Byrne and Laure Prouvost, and has contributed to publications including Afterall, Dot Dot Dot, and Texte zur Kunst. He is the editor of several publications, including Afterthought: New Writing on Conceptual Art (2005) and Here Is Information. Mobilise – Selected writings by Ian White (2016). Recent curatorial projects include the exhibition Counterimaginaries (Tromsø Kunstforening, 2023), the screening series The Deviant Product (various cities in Norway, 2022) and a series of exhibitions with the late German artist Marianne Wex. He is founder and director of PRISMS, a new organization for fostering alternative film cultures in Scandinavia and beyond. Previously he worked for more than a decade as Assistant Director of LUX, a London-based organization for artists working with the moving image which he co-founded, and has subsequently been the producer on several films by visual artists.
Introduced by Ann Butler, Director of Library and Archives, CCS Bard.
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