Artists Talking Back

Mapping an influential series of manifestations from the '80s.

In September 2013, LI-MA, in collaboration with de Appel Arts Center, began archiving a series of manifestations initiated by the artists David Garcia and Raul Marroquin, titled Artists Talking Back to the Media (1985): a showcase of artists who were making use of mass media, either as a means or a subject. 

What was Talking Back to the Media?

Talking Back to the Media consisted of many manifestations including commissioned works, a photography exposition, artist conversations, a theatre play, a film festival, a publication and several local television broadcasts staged over the city of Amsterdam. The vestiges of these manifestations have found their way into the archives of LI-MA and de Appel, requiring the concentrated efforts of two interns, Brigitte Bélanger and Camie Karstanje, who were assigned to the task of mapping their user experience and characteristics. 

How to Compile a Distributed Archive? 

The first step in their research was providing an inventory of all documents held by de Appel related to the manifestations these included: files providing contextual background on the happenings of the year 1985, files of artists affiliated with Talking Back to the Media, related correspondence from 1985 and associated press. At LI-MA, they watched videos from the archive that depicted highlights from the exhibition and artworks commissioned by Talking Back to the Media, which were consequently digitised. 

All affiliated archival material was inventoried and digitised before they began contacting the main initiators and participants for interviews. Interviews, which spanned between December 2013 and February 2014, were focused on the artists' recollections of the manifestations and how their ideas were incorporated in the final outputs. The following months were devoted to working on blog posts which depicted the research’s progress and were published on the websites of LI-MA and de Appel as public outreach. 

Only one organisation involved in Talking Back to the Media, besides de Appel and LI-MA, was found to still have documents regarding the manifestations in their archive: Kriterion. To access this material, which was no longer kept at Kriterion, the interns went to the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. During the Spring and Summer of 2014 all associated scans, stills, interviews and transcripts were compiled into a PDF (access on request), which gives an overview of the project findings. 

For access to the project findings please contact us or click on the links below for more information.