According to Sue Breakall an archive is….
‘time and space bound, perpetually connected to events in the past’Sue Breakall, ‘Perspectives: Negotiating the Archive’, Tate Papers no. 9, Spring, (2008).
Artists often use archives to present and produce their work.
The word ‘archive’ comes from the Greek for governments as they were traditionally historical records kept in a physical location. The digital era has changed that and archives have become much wider spread.
Archives typically consist of ‘ephemera‘, that is items which weren’t initially intended to be kept for a long time. In the process of storing them in an archive, they are given a new status.
Jeremy Deller’s work An Injury to One is an Injury to All, is an installation, perhaps even a kind of collaborative performance work, but it can also be seen as an archive. Deller is recreating an event from the past, in the present. He uses people and their stories, newspaper reports, and memories as archives from which to represent a historical moment, which then becomes an archive itself.
Natural Disaster Archive
One type of archive I came across recently was archives made by Digital Humanities projects to document natural disasters. Archives such as UC CEISMIC.