Perspectives: Negotiating the Archive

            Archival work has captured the imagination of many in the fields of history, and the arts as a central reference point of primary documentation. Still, the private notes, memoirs, and works of great historians and artists have been gathered to compose useful autobiographical archives that complement their public productions. The work of archivist and curators, as well as those whose journals are documented, has overlapped much recently. Many artists and historians have even resorted to cooperating with museums and other archival institutions to construct their content in a given manner for the advancement of particular individual interests. Breakell has advanced the view that futuristic archival work and curators of original documents have grown to depart considerably from traditional notions. The fundamental tenets of archival theory like authenticity have been traversed by new concepts of continuity, complexity, and ambiguity, which have been witnessed recently. 

            Archival work represented a mode of practice and connection to an artist or place, but all these tenets have gained much fluidity because of sweeping changes in society. As it were, where there were authority and power, now it is only ambiguity, complexity, and fragmentation of notions once cherished. The relationships between artists, archivists and researchers have advanced to a considerable fluidity in which all parties no longer have clear distinctions of their roles and expectations. Still, they only forge what is meaningful and valuable for their concerns. The author is of the views that within the scope of the fluid encounter in archival work, the historiography of new epochs and practices have emerged that must be understood as admissible in practice. Archival work manifests immense contradictions and discontinuities that depict it as a territory of exploration and of works that only embody journeys of discovery.  

            The complexity and ambiguity that is witnessed in archival work is that time and distance have become rapidly paced and meaning transitory. Whereas archival work tends to preserve constancy, researchers’ interactions with content only embody fluidity, which, therefore, influence the altruism of archival undertaking. Tracing any authenticity between the present and future presentations is a defeated conclusion. Researchers are therefore called upon to bear a particular competency that should be constructive for their work. The authors have tried to embed diverse discourses in the varied segments of archival work from meaning to value and purpose, which leads to the conclusion that archives have metamorphosed as much as society has advanced beyond chaos and complexity. From the vantage point of her professional accomplishments, the article is rich with insights and directives that should inform futuristic archival work in its varied, complex facets. 

            The archive has gone through diverse metamorphoses, and the works of varied researchers and interests in archival work embed diverse complexities. While the traditional notions of the archive as a static store of documents have shifted, contemporary practices should evolve at the same rate. The author cautions the readers from the use of meaning, and the interpretation of archival works in the traditional sense and suggests that a hybrid outlook is necessary. The article is rich with immense references to critical appraisals and examples from varied scholars making the same conclusion. Breakell has made an astounding contribution to the body of work, seeking a better understanding of archival work in a rapidly changing field. The author suggests that a collaborative approach is what is needed in mitigating the inherent flaws in theory and practices regarding archival work within the scope of the new paradigms characterized by change and complexity.