Case Study: Karenjit Sandu, Poetic Fragments from the Irritating Archive

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 8: Creating and Archive

Poetic Fragments from the Irritating Archive is a multimodal text by Karenjit Sandhu which brings together poetry, found language, objects, sound and performance. 

What do you notice about the form of the work and how it evolves across the fragments? 

There is a general theme of irritation and feeling uncomfortable across all the fragments. The fragments are put together in such a way that they induce this feeling of panic and irritation in the viewer which seems counterproductive to what an artist would normally want to do. Historically art was made to make us feel comfortable, have an aesthetic pleasure and something that people would want to spend time around. This is different.

At which point in the work do you find yourself irritated? Or do you experience another type of feeling?

I’d say my overall feeling is one of uncomfortable and unease rather than irritation.

Does your experience of the work change as you are led through the fragments?

My experience just builds as the fragments progress. I want the piece to end as I feel like I could be spending my time doing something better. I don’t enjoy the feeling that this is frustrating and I want to do something else. I am confused as to why an artist would want people to want to leave their piece of work.

How do my research methods inform your own creative practice? 

I think for me, the main takeaway of this is to explore ideas that I would normally be uncomfortable with. Art doesn’t have to be pleasing or induce any sort of pleasure. Maybe sometimes the most powerful pieces are those that make us question why we feel uncomfortable.

In what way have my practice methods shaped your thinking on archival practice?

My thinking on archival practice has changed considerably. Initially, I was in the mindset of it being a collection of objects, like a museum archive. That they would be prettily displayed with information that was engaging and educational to the audience. This piece has made me think about the different ways that an archive could be collated and presented. It doesn’t have to be historical or around a physical theme, this is around a feeling which is an interesting perspective to take.

What bearing does the fictionalisation of the archive have on the themes of ‘Time’ and ‘Place’?

This is perhaps the most exciting element for me. That an archive can have a huge creative license. It doesn’t have to be grounded in truth or reality. We can explore alternative worlds, alternative timelines and ideas that are based in fiction and creativity instead.

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