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Activating the Archive: Local Collections and their Digital Reach

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Asia Art Archive in America

43 Remsen Street

Brooklyn, NY 11201

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The archive is a space that is both place holder and site of activation. Traditionally, objects in the archive — be it printed ephemera, letters, photographs, official documents, or any number of other things — waited to be engaged and interpreted by disparate publics, through cataloguing, study, and exhibition. Today, with new online tools at our disposal, the archive has the potential to be digitized and made accessible to far wider audiences than could have been anticipated some decades prior. And yet, there are still so many urgent stories and profound histories that have largely been left out of archival records.

This panel will bring together voices from three Brooklyn-based organizations – Asia Art Archive in America, Interference Archive, and the Franklin Furnace — that engage the digital and physical archive to further the goal of making visible a wide range of art-making practices, in both the United States and Asia. In a conversation moderated by Meghan Forbes, panelists will explore how an archive can effectively build community through the preservation and propagation of certain narratives, and consider the natural dialogue between publishing platforms and collection practices.

Franklin Furnace's mission is to present, preserve, interpret, proselytize, and advocate on behalf of avant-garde art, especially forms that may be vulnerable due to institutional neglect, cultural bias, their ephemeral nature, or politically unpopular content. Franklin Furnace is dedicated to serving artists by providing both physical and virtual venues for the presentation of time-based art, including but not limited to artists' books and periodicals, installation art, performance art, and unforeseen contemporary avant-garde artforms; and to undertake other activities related to these purposes. Franklin Furnace is committed to serving emerging artists; to assuming an aggressive pedagogical stance with regard to the value of avant-garde art to life; and to fostering artists' zeal to broadcast ideas. Represented on this panel by Martha Wilson.

Interference Archive is a volunteer-run, community supported activist archive in Brooklyn. Since 2011, they have been collecting the cultural production of social movements—print ephemera, film, literature, and more—made available in a collection completely open to the public four days a week. This open stacks policy and volunteer-run structure offers a welcome alternative to the power structures scholars tend to speak of in theorizing The Archive. Interference Archive’s collection is activated through regular exhibitions and programming, as a way to engage with and learn from the rich history of social movement organizing. Represented on this panel by Jen Hoyer and Rob Smith.

Asia Art Archive in America is a catalyst for new ideas that enrich our understanding of the world through the collection, creation, and sharing of knowledge around recent art in Asia. AAA’s mission is to collect, preserve and make information on contemporary art from and of Asia easily accessible in order to facilitate understanding, research and writing in the field. AAA in A strives to be pro-active in instigating dialogue and critical thinking through a series of regular educational programs, and hopes to raise awareness of and support for the activities of Asia Art Archive globally. Represented on this panel by Jane DeBevoise.


Meghan Forbes is the C-MAP (Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives) Fellow for Central and Eastern Europe at The Museum of Modern Art in New York and a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Public Knowledge at NYU. She is the sole editor of International Perspectives on Publishing Platforms: Image, Object, Text(Routledge, 2019).

Images courtesy of Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc.; Interference Archive; Ryan Buckley; Asia Art Archive, photo by Kitmin Lee.


Please note that in order to ensure that events are accessible and comfortable, we will open the doors at 6:30 p.m. and strictly limit admittance to our legal capacity. If you have specific questions about access, please write to us at info@aaa-a.org or call 718-522-2299 before the event and we will make every effort to accommodate you.



This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

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Date and Time

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Asia Art Archive in America

43 Remsen Street

Brooklyn, NY 11201

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Refund Policy

Refunds up to 1 day before event

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