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Thomas Sauvin, the mind behind Beijing Silvermine, will be speaking at our day-symposium ACTIVATING THE ARCHIVE: Contemporary Uses of Visual Archives held at Arnolfini alongside Thomas Sauvin, Amak Mahmoodian, Charbel Saad, Vicki Bennett, Francesca Seravalle and guest contributor Kensuke Koike on the May 5th 2018. This event is supported by Arts Council of England and co-presented with Arnolfini. Early bird tickets are still available, limited capacity.



1. What has led to your involvement with archive material?

During the twelve years I lived in China, I was surrounded by neglected images and quite naturally felt the need to rescue them. I ended up amassing over a million photos and equally felt the need to share them.


2. How do you activate the material that you gather and why is this important?

I suppose the most crucial step is the process of constantly observing the material, until something unexpected and hopefully meaningful emerges almost organically from it. Collecting and observing would be rather useless if the fruits of these investigations where not to be shared with the world, in my case the photobook proved to be the perfect tool to do so.


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3. In post digital world, what role do physical archive play?

Possibly the same role that the digital archives we’re building today will play in twenty years of time: They allow us to dive in the past in a magical way, often giving us wonderful insights of what the human race is capable of, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.


4. Briefly, what can we expect from your talk?

Hopefully a good laugh, maybe a few tears, and most certainly a very thick French accent.


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