Activating the Archive:

Contemporary Uses of Visual Archives


Saturday 5th May 2018

11am  – 6pm (Doors open at 10.30 am) / £20 – £25 

Tickets available here: https://goo.gl/5ejZey



IC Visual Lab warmly invites you to its upcoming symposium, ACTIVATING THE ARCHIVE:  Contemporary Uses of Visual Archives, taking place at the Arnolfini on the 5th of May. This one-day symposium explores the many ways archives are activated within the arts through a series of talks with international artists, curators, and researchers.


The possibilities of visual archives sit at the forefront of this event, which is reflected in the work by the invited speakers; Francesca Seravalle, Maja Daniels, Charbel Saad, Vicki Bennett, Thomas Sauvin, Kensuke Koike, and Amak Mahmoodian. All of whom are reinterpreting archival material, building new archives, or facilitating the use of existing archives within their respective practices. This event is supported by the Arts Council of England and co-presented with Arnolfini.

Read below for more information on the artists involved:




Doors open 10:30 am

10.45 – 11am Introduction by IC-Visual Lab




11:00 – 11.50 am Francesca Seravalle – Everything has its first time

In 2013, during some ‘archaeological’ research to discover more information about the first photo uploaded to the internet, Francesca Seravalle realized that there were thousands of First Photos that reveal the beauty of the discovery and have the power to change our society. “I started to chase many first photos (from the 1820s to the present day) following four tracks: photographic inventions, scientific and technological discoveries, historical landmarks, and first seen visions of nature.”





12:00 – 12.50 pm Charbel Saad – The Arab Image Foundation


Charbel Saad is the head of digital collections at the Arab Image Foundation. Established in Beirut in 1997, the Foundation holds a collection of more than 600,000 photographs from the mid-19th century to the present day. The Foundation has produced fifteen exhibitions and eight publications in partnership with international museums, galleries and cultural institutions. The collection has also provided an invaluable resource for artists’ projects, curatorial initiatives and academic research. The contents of the AIF’s collection reflect both the general preservation mandate of the foundation and the specific research interests of its members. The artists, writers, filmmakers and historians affiliated with the AIF have, to date, initiated research projects in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Iran, Mexico, Argentina and Senegal. The result is a dynamic and at times idiosyncratic collection that does not merely illustrate the history of photography in the region but rather situates a wealth of different photographic practices in a complex field of social, economic, political and cultural factors.





1pm – 2pm Lunch Break


14:00 – 14:50 pm Amak Mahmoodian – Neghab


Not a long time passed from the invention of photography in Europe before photography arrived in Iran. According to Tahmasbooor (Photographer Naserod_din shah, 2002) as early as 1844 (1260 in the Iranian calendar) an Iranian woman, for the first time, stood as the subject for a photographer. The portrait was made by the Qajar king Naserod-din shah, who took up photography as a result of being given the gift of a camera from Queen Victoria. In 2004, I visited the Golestan museum and worked on my archival research for 2 years. Golestan Archives are located in central Tehran, which was once a home for Qajar women, and the king’s wives, Harem women.







15:00 – 15:50 pm Vicki Bennett – Processing The Product


A talk by Vicki Bennett (People Like Us) reflecting upon 25+ years of creating audiovisual media, sharing information and insights on creating large scale works using preexisting material. Since 1991 Vicki Bennett has been making CDs, radio, and A/V multimedia under the name People Like Us. By animating and recontextualising found footage collages Vicki gives an equally witty and dark view of popular culture with a surrealistic edge. People Like Us broadcasts an ongoing experimental arts radio and podcast show on WFMU, called “DO or DIY”, which, since it began in 2003, has had over a million “listen again” downloads.




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16:00 – 16:50 pm Maja Daniels  – Elf Dalia

In 2012 Maja Daniels, photographer and sociologist began working in the Swedish region of Älvdalen inspired by the current generational shift, where negotiations and tensions between modern lifestyles and tradition – including the preservation of a strong cultural identity imbued with mysticism – represent an important contemporary struggle. Through making her own photographs of the region, and creatively appropriating parts of the archive of photographer Tenn Lars Persson (1878 –1938) within her work the community’s unique and mysterious eccentricity is reinforced. Steeped in both reality and myth, past and present, an imaginary tale influenced by language, mystery and local history quietly reveals itself through the resilience of the subjects, the strangeness of the events and the beauty of the land.







17:00 – 17:50 pm  Thomas Sauvin – Beijing Silvermine

Beijing Silvermine is an archive of 500,000 negatives salvaged over the last seven years from a recycling plant on the edge of Beijing. Assembled by the French collector and artist Thomas Sauvin, Beijing Silvermine offers a unique photographic portrait of the Chinese capital and the life of its inhabitants in the decades following the Cultural Revolution. This coherent and unceasingly evolving archive allows us to apprehend negatives in different ways. It constitutes a visual platform for cross-cultural interactions, while impacting on our collective memory of the recent past.




17:50 – 18:00 pm Closure by IC-Visual Lab



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Kensuke Koike – Today’s curiosity videos will be screened throughout the day.


Koike’s collage works are known for his playfulness and humorous approaches to archival material. During this symposium, Koike’s video-art pieces from his series Today’s curiosity will be screened throughout the day.








This event is organised by IC-Visual Lab with the support of the Arts Council of England and in collaboration with Arnolfini.


– Ends –


For further information and high resolution images please contact Isaac Blease, Creative Director, on: 07880365420 or Isaac.blease@gmail.com


Notes to Editors:

  • Francesca Seravalle Majored with a first class degree in History of Contemporary Art -Photography, and has studied in both Venice and Paris. She is an Award-winning curator, researcher and project manager, Francesca has, over the years worked on a number of high profile art projects and exhibitions. She also collaborates as an independent researcher and talent scout for Erik Kessels, and The Archive of Modern Conflict, and is a contributor to the magazines Flash Art, Secret Behaviour and DAMN Magazine. Francesca’s work is also linked to the production of a number of projects (books and exhibitions) for Magnum Photos, both in Paris and Milan, and VII Agency. Her works are published by RVB, AMC, SPBH, Trolleybooks, Silvana Editrice.
  • Maja Daniels Is a Swedish independent photographer currently based in London, UK. Having studied journalism, photography and sociology, her work focuses on social documentary and portraiture with an emphasis on human relations in a western, contemporary environment. Her work was included in the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize 2011 and exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London. She also won second prize in the 2012 Sony World Photography Awards and was selected as one of the 2011 Magenta Foundations Flash Forward Emerging Photographers. She was shortlisted for the 2010 PhotoVisura Grant for an outstanding personal photography project and she has exhibited in Paris, London, New York and Bilbao, Spain. Dividing her time between long-term documentary projects and commercial work, she is regularly commissioned by the weekly and monthly press including The Guardian Weekend Magazine, Intelligent Life, New Statesman, Monoclemagazine, FT Magazine, Le Monde Magazine as well as humanitarian organisations and cultural institutions such as the UNICEF and the European Commission. 
  • Thomas Sauvin considers himself a curator and collector, rather than an artist. His collections have appeared in exhibitions across China, the United Kingdom, and the United States, including the Caochangdi Photo Festival, Beijing (2012), The Singapore International Photo Festival (2012), FORMAT Photo Festival, Derby, UK (2013), and The Salt Yard, Hong Kong (2013). Sauvin’s photographic archive project, Beijing Silvermine, received the New Photography Award of the Year at the Lianzhou International Photography Festival, Lianzhou, Guangdong, China in 2013. A limited, five-album edition of his Silvermine project was nominated for Best Photobook at the 6th International Fotobook Festival, Kassel, Germany (2013). Sauvin has worked as a consultant for the UK-based Archive of Modern Conflict since 2006.
  • Vicki BennettSince 1991 British artist Vicki Bennett has been working across the field of audio-visual collage, and is recognised as an influential and pioneering figure in the still growing area of sampling, appropriation and cutting up of found footage and archives. Working under the name People Like Us, Vicki specialises in the manipulation and reworking of original sources from both the experimental and popular worlds of music, film and radio. People Like Us believe in open access to archives for creative use. In 2006 she was the first artist to be given unrestricted access to the entire BBC Archive. People Like Us have previously shown work at, amongst others, Tate Modern, Whitechapel Gallery, The Barbican, Centro de Cultura Digital, Maxxi and Sonar, and performed radio sessions for John Peel and Mixing It. She has an ongoing sound art radio show ‘DO or DIY’ on WFMU. The People Like Us back catalogue is available for free download hosted by UbuWeb. Nothing Can Turn Into A Void – a documentary film about People Like Us has been screening in cinemas and festivals since Autumn 2015. Currently, Vicki is focussing on expanding both audio and moving image work for a multiscreen and multi-speakered environment with Recombinant Media Labs, with a new 10 screen work “Gone, Gone Beyond” and there will be a new People Like Us live performance “The Mirror” premiering at FACT, Liverpool in Spring 2018.
  • Amak Mahmoodian – Is an Iranian artist and curator. She is a graduate of Photography and Documentary (MA), from the Art University of Tehran, and in 2015 received her PhD in Art and Photography from the University of South Wales, UK. In 2016 she co-published with ICVL studio and RRB Publishing her first limited-edition book, Shenasnameh, which received a special mention at the Maribor Photobook award, Slovenia, and was a finalist for the best British Book design and production of the year. She has exhibited at Ffotogallery, Cardiff, as well as, A Goethe-institute, Chennai. She lives and works in the UK.
  • Keisuke Koike – Born in Nagoya, Japan, Koike moved to Italy, pursuing studies. He graduated from Accademia di Belle Arti, Venice, Italy in 2004, and he spent the next three years further expanding his knowledge at the IUAV University, Faculty of Arts and Design in Venice. Since 2005, he has actively exhibited his works, mainly in Italy, but also in Germany, the USA, Canada and Slovenia, first as a part of group shows, and later having his own successful solo shows.
  • Arnolfini – Is Bristol’s arts house located on the harbourside in the heart of the city. Founded in 1961, the organisation is dedicated to producing and presenting visual arts, performance, dance, film, music and events, underpinned by a commitment to a dynamic civic role in the city. In 2016, Arnolfini was a finalist in the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year, recognised for its extraordinary commitment to broadening participation and engagement with the arts. Under the new leadership of Director Claire Doherty, Arnolfini is undergoing significant change over the next year. www.arnolfini.org.uk
  • IC‐Visual  Lab C.I.C.  is  an independent  photography organisation based  in Bristol, focussing on the education  and promotion of contemporary photography.  Its remit is to support the development of photographic practice across all approaches and for all audiences. In 2016 it launched ICVL Studio, a dedicated collective specialising in production, publishing, multimedia, archive management and curating. www.icvl.co.uk
  • Activating the Archive – This symposium is the first event, part of an 8-month programme co-ordinated by IC Visual Lab, exploring contemporary uses of archives within the arts. The project includes a series of talks, workshops, and the first artistic commission using the materials from the British Empire and Commonwealth collection at Bristol Archives.



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