Alternative Histories, Alternative Archives: A one-day symposium on the state of the archive

“This material will still be here when you leave.  Someone else will study it.  These images will encounter other times, other faces.”

— Akram Zaatari, artist, speaking about the Arab Image Foundation photography archive

The concept of “the Archive” has gained potency over recent years, particularly in the realms of art and culture. Depository of information, home for memory and data, source of inspiration and inquiry for artists and researchers — archives function in a multitude of ways across disciplines.
For more than forty years, Video Data Bank (VDB) has served as a valuable resource for alternative video art histories, and has itself evolved into an “accidental” archive. VDB is a pioneer in fostering awareness and scholarship of media art — from a renowned anthology of early video art, to feminist and queer-focused curatorial projects, and media activist collections — long advocating for this most democratic and widely distributed of art forms.
This October, VDB will host Alternative Histories, Alternative Archives, a one-day symposium centered on alternative archival content, practices, and strategies, from archivists, academics, and artists. Among the questions posed:
  • What makes an archive?
  • Who is the archive for?
  • Is the archive neutral?
  • Who controls the archive?
  • Can the archive be a progressive tool?
  • How can the archive survive in the current political and financial climate?

We are happy to welcome Josh MacPhee of Interference Archive as our keynote speaker, as well as representatives from organizations including: Black Film Center/Archive, Chicago Film Archives, Experimental Sound Studio, Media Burn, Public Collectors, Read/Write Library, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sixty Inches From Center, South Side Home Movie Project, and artist Joshua J. Kent.

Click here for the full schedule

Click here for the full list of participants

Co-Prosperity Sphere
3219 South Morgan Street
Chicago, IL 60608

Thursday, October 5th 9.00am-5.00pm

This event has been made possible thanks to the Lyn Blumenthal Memorial Fund

Eventbrite - Alternative Histories, Alternative Archives

Academic Back To School Savings


September is finally upon us! Students and faculty are eagerly returning to colleges and universities everywhere. Save up to 20% on purchases made before October 31st, 2017 by taking advantage of VDB’s academic back to school savings.

Video Data Bank’s compilations and box sets offer great value to educational institutions, allowing students, faculty, and researchers direct access to the work of moving image practitioners shaping the field of contemporary art today. This fall also sees some exciting new releases from Cecelia Condit, Frédéric Moffet, and Zhengfan Yang.

Use code B2S17 for 20% off any compilation or box set
Use code FALLSAVINGS17 for 10% off any other purchase
Through October 31st, 2017