Archives of Substance


These archives help us grasp how content, desire, aspiration and shared hopes can become a form of ‘substance infrastructure’. When a group of people shares trajectories within particular historical moments, they may not build lasting structures but their joint hopes and beliefs do come together in dense atmospheres that are elusive but charged. The archives assembled here are testimony to such charged atmospheres, when aspirations predate any formalised organisation and result in mythic forms  – a moment of political vision and solidarity in London, a set of cultural imaginaries in Teheran, the reactions of viewers to exhibitions they have seen and that have affected them, the efforts by a group of friends and colleagues in Europe to collectively establish a way of researching and thinking in public.


Exhibitions are often the site of multiple imaginaries – what we see in an exhibition is the trigger for so many other associations and links. But the actual experience is often silent and privatised and the more distinguished and famous the venue of the exhibition, the more inhibited the response. ‘Anecdoted Archive’ brings together many different viewers account of what an exhibition meant to them, how they were affected by it. Going beyond the cannon of ‘great’ exhibitions in the west, the archives assembles voices from many countries and many situations that highlight how seeing an exhibition can be vitally important and transformative.