The artworld as an archival structure
in Art + Archive
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This chapter analyses what happens when archival theories migrate to an art context, and considers the specific conditions that make the term stick. It shows how the archive functions as a productive short cut to theorise a changed notion of art, and the complex function of art institutions, documents and discursive systems in post-war art. The increasingly theoretical understanding of the archive in the second half of the twentieth century – as both material and structure, both concrete place and abstract law – is shown to share a great deal with the institutional theory of art outlined by Arthur Danto in the mid-1960s. By considering these jointly, comparing vocabulary, use of concepts, epistemological structures and notions of temporality, the chapter makes clear that these different theoretical clusters lock into one another in numerous ways and that elements of archive theory reinforced elements of the institutional theory of art and vice versa.

By examining one recent reference to Ed Ruscha’s work – Michael Maranda’s 2009 remake of Twentysix Gasoline Stations – the chapter points to the archival function of such returns.

Art + Archive

Understanding the archival turn in contemporary art

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