Shelf Life – Archive Event II

Looiersgracht 60, Amsterdam 2019

One-day performance
Materials: raw clay and porcelain

‘Shelf-life’ is a term widely used to imply the longevity of commodities or the time-frame between the production and expiration of goods. In this one-day performance created specifically for Looiersgracht 60, Khurtova and Bourlanges pay special attention to the notion of the “afterlife of archives”; instead of keeping the archive preserved from changes to endure time, their approach embraces its living potential, finding new purposes and continuity. In this transient performance where archival elements are created, fragmented, shelved, and erased, viewers delve into the duality of the interpretation of the ‘archive,’ whereby the need to preserve clashes with the desire to keep something alive.

The performance was accompanied by a lecture by Alena Alexandrova, a cultural theorist and independent curator, and a conversation between her and the duo wherein they discussed what it means for artists to intervene with existing archives and how archives that have been ‘shelved’ can be kept alive.

photo credits: © Jessie Yingying Gong