Ongoing artistic practice and its relation to archival project

The Heart Archive,
Folk Archive,
The Atlas Group Archive.

In the contemporary art field the adjective ongoing is often associated to artistic and curatorial practices focused on the unfolding and development of artistic and curatorial long-term projects, more than to a finite work of art or exhibition. Furthermore, ongoing practices - both curatorial and artistic – are, most of the time, mentioned in relation to the term project. This recurring connection reinforces the nature of ongoing practices and unveils the intrinsic characteristics they share with what, in art, is identified with the term project.

Nowadays, the discourse around ongoing approaches to artistic and curatorial projects is relevant more than ever and, at the same time - in the two last decades – archival art obtained a central role in the art scene, becoming a widely shared artistic practice among visual artists. It is relevant for our discourse to look specifically at artists working on archival projects using an ongoing artistic approach. It is worth to investigate how in the contemporary art world ongoing artistic practices are often associated with archival projects that are developed and presented by artists over a long period of time, sometimes as open-ended and ever-present project in their artistic career.

There is no better way to highlight these peculiar ever-present aspects in archival projects than by looking at famous archival projects by well-known artists that combined archival art and ongoing artistic practice. In this case I focused on Boltanski’s The Heart Archive, Deller and Kane’s Folk Archive, and The Atlas Group Archive by Lebanese artist Walid Raad.