Exercise 3: Plan the form of your archive

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

There are a few ideas I experimented with before settling on the idea of a film.


I did consider making an archival website that could be an ongoing project in which I would come back and add material to.

I started to draft out a layout:

However, I decided this would become too static and like a presentation of facts rather than allow me to be truly creative with how I presented the archive.

It is still something I might come back and do in addition to the film at some point.

With a website, people could follow their own journey and focus on the areas they are interested in, which might appeal to some people viewing.

User Guide

One idea I do like is to create a user guide to go alongside the film I am making. This might be in the form of a pdf or website to accompany it. This would allow me to add extra detail, not in the final film, full versions of the creative writing pieces and more images than I end up including.


As soon as I started making the website it felt like it wasn’t the right final idea for me. Since the start of this course I have been inspired by Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty and the film that went alongside it. I do want to focus on film over a website.

Newgrange is a very physical process and I like the idea of collating the information digitally.

Exercise 2: Create an Inventory

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

How will my archive be navigated by others?

I am going to create a documentary-type video about Newgrange. It will contain readings of creative writing pieces about the people who made it, maps, video montages, and still images set to music. I want it to be in the same style as the Spiral Jetty film that was made to accompany Robert Smithson’s creation.
People will watch the video to navigate it.

Materials in archive

Map of Ireland showing the locationDigital imageZooming in on the map to show where Newgrange is
Images of NewgrangeDigital collageVoiceover descriptions added
Stories of people who made the spiralsPiece of writingCreative writing piece – excerpts read out in the film
Video footage of people making the spiralsVideo clipsVideos will be sourced from modern stock footage but made to look like they are the people making the spirals
Video of myself making spiral artVideo clipsClips inserted of real spiral sketches
Myth readings and poemsPieces of writingExcerpts read out of myths associated with newgrange

In making a film, the narrative is chosen by me. I can decide the order people must view the final piece. They cannot wander around the archive and decide on their own journey. It is dictated to them. It will allow me to interweave fact and fiction in a convincing way.

Exercise 1: Gathering your archive

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

Event – the making of the Newgrange Spirals

I have decided to start gathering material for my archive on padlet.

Padlet link: https://padlet.com/claire5279411/spiralarchive


What types of material do you think will be in your archive?

Photographs, maps, fiction stories, timelines

Are you going to gather physical or digital items?

Digital but with some physical elements recorded digitally

Will the actual material gathered, and the way you present your archive be the same? For example, you might choose to gather fabric samples, but present them as a digital collection, or collect newspaper cuttings, but present them as/alongside creative writing.

Any physical items will be recorded digitally

Will your archive be solely factual, fictional, or a bit of both?

Both. I like the idea of extrapolating the factual into fictional stories too.

Will you acknowledge your own subjectivity as the creator of this archive?

Yes, as this period is so unknown, there is always going to be a degree of subjectivity.

Who will this archive be for? Is it to be used as a research site for others? Is it artwork? Is it for personal use?

I like the idea of it being a jumping point for other people’s research but also a chance to do some creative writing and exploring ideas personally.

Walid Raad – The Atlas Group

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

Raad’s archival practice follows this idea of fictionalisation and raises questions about what is fact and what is fiction when looking at archives and records of past events. Born in Lebanon, Raad’s practice often focuses on the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), and is a good example of how a creative practice can archive an event. Raad often presents his work as ‘research projects’ by ‘The Atlas Group’, and the work often adopts the form of documentary film and photography, literary artefacts, conference presentations or lectures, and archival dossiers. All of Raad’s work is rich with examples of how a creative practice might use or invent archival material.

OCA website

Walid Raad often makes work concerned with the representation of traumatic events. Base don his past of growing up in Lebanon and having to move to the USA in 1983 due to conflict in Beirut.

The Atlas Group is a fictional foundation that he created to accommodate and contextualise his growing output of works documenting the civil wars. It addresses issues around infrastructure, and societal and psychic devastation wrought by the wars, which he then re-dates and attributes to an array of invented figures. All of his work is processed digitally.

His work blurs the lines between fiction and reality. He often says different things at different times about the collective. Sometimes saying they were formed in 1967, other times in 1999. To build on this idea of fiction v reality.

My Neck is Thinner than a Hair (2001)

Picture from moma.org

My neck is thinner than a hair: Engines explores some of the thousands of car bomb explosions that occurred in Lebanon during its wars. Raad presents photographs from newspaper archives of the engines that were blasted out of the exploded cars. Though the engines rarely served as evidence in investigations of the violence, he notes that politicians often posed next to them to suggest that they were doing everything in their power to solve the crimes. In probing some of the lesser-explored aspects of the wars in Lebanon, he highlights our readiness to accept as facts the photographs and official narratives that are presented to us.

Let’s Be Honest, The Weather Helped (1998)

Image from http://www.stedelijk.nl/

In Let’s be honest, the weather helped, he shares his perceptive, critical, politically engaged, and often playful perspective of the complexities of the Lebanese wars and the current boom of contemporary art in the Middle East. Raad works in a wide variety of visual media, complemented by performances and essays.


What I really like about Walid Raad’s approach that I want to use in my own archive is that he takes a real event like the Lebanese War and tells the story in a thought-provoking way but uses fiction and creativity to do so. We are left questioning, what is real and what is added on. Is the reality better or worse than the vision Raad shows us. It asks us to look at news reports in a critical way as particularly during wars they are fictionalised too to promote the propaganda of whichever perspective they are telling the story from.


Grrr.nl (2019). Walid Raad – Let’s be honest, the weather helped. [online] http://www.stedelijk.nl. Available at: https://www.stedelijk.nl/en/news/lets-be-honest-weather-helped.

MoMA (n.d.). MoMA | The Atlas Group/Walid Raad. My Neck Is Thinner Than a Hair: Engines. 1996–2004. [online] http://www.moma.org. Available at: https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/walid-raad-my-neck-is-thinner-than-a-hair-engines-1996-2004/ [Accessed 9 Oct. 2022].

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.