Symposium Open Archief

09 June 2021 - 15:40

What is the difference between an artistic and an academic interpretation of archival materials? What is the relationship between artistic freedom and creative reuse? How ‘open’ should a collection be? What role does research play in making art? And does art influence the working methods of institutional archives? We will discuss these and other questions about the creative reuse of heritage materials during the Open Archief symposium.

Archives are generally seen as large, impenetrable structures. Opening them up provides greater access to information and enables us to reinterpret history, in turn paving the way for undermining power structures. How can institutions become more accessible? And what can they learn from the creative reuse of their collections? With its theme of Research and Copyright, this symposium will explore artistic practices that involve using archival materials and making them available.

Open Archief Symposium

The Sympoisum

On the 22nd of June, live from the International Institute of Social History, we explore the themes: research, copyright and reuse in collaboration with partners and speakers: Pictoright, THE ARCHIVE HOTEL, Mariana Lanari (Amsterdam School of Heritage, Memory and Material Culture) and Stefan Dickers (Bishopsgate Institute)

date: 22 june 2021 | time: 10:00 - 16:00 | on: ZOOM | language: English | free registration here

The programme is free of charge and can be followed as a whole, or as individual sessions. You have the opportunity to register for the whole day or for the morning or afternoon sessions.

Morning Session



Stefan Dickers (Bishopsgate Institute) Stef is the Special Collections and Archives Manager at Bishopsgate Institute and has been responsible for the development of the Institute's collections on the history of London, protest and activism, and LGBTQ+ Britain. He qualified as an archivist in 2001 and started at Bishopsgate in 2005.
Previous to this, Stefan worked in the archives of the London School of Economics and Senate House Library. He will talk at extraordinary length about the collections whenever asked and regularly entertains groups of students, groups and family/local history societies on the wonders they can find in the Special Collections and Archives at the Institute.

THE ARCHIVE HOTEL (Ash Bowland) in conversation with Johannes Elebaut, Alina Cristea and Shervin Sheikh Rezaei.

Researching archival collections is an arduous task, and there’s often a dissonance between material, description, interpretation and access. When an artist looks for images and other information in an academic archive, feeling overwhelmed and misunderstood is just around the corner. The more instinctually way of searching doesn’t match with the more structured institutional construction and most of the material is contextualized in a historical perception. How can artistic research play a role for re-contextualizing historical material and how can institutions facilitate more fluid working methods? Could it be a long lasting affair, where archives would be a household of multiple perspectives on the historical material or is it a mismatch?

THE ARCHIVE HOTEL is the child of the investigative art practice of Ash Bowland, and the urge for collective participation. It resulted in an autonomous platform for artistic research dedicated to the artist’s ARCHIVE, embracing HOMAGE & CONFLICT. In its rooms the hotel fosters different critical and aesthetical research methods that paves the road to an artistic identity.


Afternoon session


Interview: Mariana Lanari in conversation with Inger Schaap.

During this interview artist and academic Mariana Lanari will question practices of archival reuse for artistic purposes. How can we deal with handling and reusing archival material that at times was created under a state of duress? Is that even possible? Are there examples of archival reuse which furthers the conversation? How do we keep critical in reusing this material? With legs in both worlds (academic and artistic) she would share personal experiences and future possibilities regarding reuse of archival materials.

Mariana Lanari is a PhD candidate at the Amsterdam School of Heritage, Memory and Material Culture at University of Amsterdam. She co-founded Archival Consciousness with Remco van Bladel. She is part of the band Rainbowpeel 475.13. She is on the advisory board of De Appel Mobile Archive and of DAAP – Digital Archive of Artist Publishing (UK). She is a member of ARIAS, Amsterdam Research Institute of the Arts and Sciences, and Making Things Public at the lectoraat of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. Her work has been shown at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Van Zijl Langhout Gallery, Arti Amititae, W139, Van Abbemuseum, Transmission Gallery (Glasgow), Casa do Povo (São Paulo), among others.

Consultation Hour

With Pictoright (Hanneke Holthuis + Arlette Bekink), IISG (Thijs van Leeuwen), Het Nieuwe Instituut (Iris de Jong) & Beeld en Geluid (Dennis Hekker)

The inevitable subject in reusing archival material: copyright. Whether it’s to protect your own work or when you’re reusing somebody else’s material, the matter of copyright is always present. Even with the existing rules and regulations, we all interpret this subject differently. Knowledge is power, so for this afternoon we provide you with breakout sessions with the three institutions of the Open Archief project and our financial sponsor: Pictoright. You have the opportunity to go in conversation with institutions and ask them questions regarding the possibility of specific archive material. More interested in the new Appropriation Art guidelines of Pictoright? Sign up for their room!

This symposium is made possible with the financial support of the Pictoright fonds.



You can register for one or more components:

Register for the entire symposium via Eventbrite
Register for one or more individual break-out sessions via the Google Form
Let us know if you have a specific question!

Enter your name and address here if you would like to have the publication Open Archive RE:SEARCH delivered to your door for free.