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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Shifting Powers: Digitality, Modularity and (Im)materiality in the 21st Century Post-Colonial Archive

Moschovi, Alexandra and Supartono, Alexander (2015) Shifting Powers: Digitality, Modularity and (Im)materiality in the 21st Century Post-Colonial Archive. In: Photography in the 21st Century: Art, Philosophy Technique, 5-6 June 2015, Central St. Martins, London.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


This paper seeks to explore the impact of digital technologies upon the material, conceptual and ideological premises of the archive, with specific emphasis on the novel use and exhibition value of the colonial archive in the era of Web 3.0. This analysis is pursued though a discussion of the findings of an international, multidisciplinary artist workshop in Yogyakarta in Indonesia that used the digital colonial archive to critically investigate the ways national, transnational and personal history and memory in the former colonies has been informed and shaped by the colonial past. We specifically focus on how the artists’ employment of digital media contests and reconfigures the use, truth value and power of the colonial archive as an entity and institution. Case studies include: Thai photographer Dow Wasiksiri, who questions the archive’s mnemonic function by means of digital manipulation; Malaysian artist Yee I-Lann, who adopts a speculative photomontage to represent onto the same picture plane different historical moments and colonial narratives; and Indonesian photographer Agan Harahap, who recomposes archival photographs into unlikely juxtapositions. Recontextualised and repurposed online on different platforms, their work becomes part of the expanded post-colonial archive and proposes a reframing not only of the politics of colonial representation, but also of the validity and veracity of the photographic image as evidence and historical record. We also argue that the transition from the material colonial archive of the 20th century to the immaterial post-colonial archive of the 21st century also makes possible a shift in power relations allowing formerly colonised subjects to have unprecedented access to and control over the representation of their history.


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Uncontrolled Keywords: archive, digitisation, colonialism, postcolonialism, creative repurposing
Depositing User: Alexandra Moschovi


Item ID: 12003
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ORCID for Alexandra Moschovi: ORCID iD

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Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2021 11:27
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2021 15:55