Yishu - Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art
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From the Excess of Image to the Resurgence of Archive
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From the Excess of Image to the Resurgence of Archive

Volume 16, Number 4, July/August 2017
by Nikita Yingqian Cai

Article Description

Nikita Yingqian Cai's essay shifts away from the contemporary politics of historiography and zooms in to the appropriation of alternative archives by artists. She first distinguishes the difference between two terms denoting the archive in the Chinese context: dang’an is a dossier or record, a collection of documents and materials that are categorized and preserved by public authority, and wen xian is a term with a much longer etymological history that refers to a collection of documents that are open to interpretation. The temporal distinction between dang’an and wen xian and their respective status toward meaning designates an undefined moment when an archive has yet to become an archive. She argues that it is precisely such uncertainty in pursuing truth that yields to a resurgence of attention toward the archive in artistic practice in the post-Internet era.

Related Keywords

Nikita Yingqian Cai, alternative archive, dang'an, wen xian, archive in artistic practice, post-Internet era