Perhaps nowhere are the methods for organizing art and society as clear as in the archive, whose purpose is to gather and classify information—and to assign historical value—by adhering to the culture's prevailing interests and belief systems. In this regard, numerous artists have appropriated the genre of the archive or collection itself as a model for critiquing the museum and other institutions. And yet such work is frequently humorous, hyperbolic, or fantastical in its approach, seeking to apply typologies to subjects that would never be assessed in the conventional museological setting (such as stuffed animals or the varieties of fish found in the markets of New York City's Chinatown) or expanding the archive's premise ad absurdum. In turn, such artistic projects necessarily move into the broader cultural field, posing questions of what and who are included and what and who are left out, forcing audiences to ask how societal biases influence the practice of collecting and preserving as well as the historical record. 

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citation for this page
"Archive." Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology Digital Archive. Los Angeles: Hammer Museum, 2017. https://​​take-it-or-leave-it/​art/​themes/​archive/​.