Room 4: Curating the Archive

 2019/ Room

︎ MASS Alexandria, “End of Year Exhibition”

“Curating the Archive: A Narration of What Happened Before” is a room set up in an exhibition space, and marks the end of the series. This room guides participants through different acts of performativity to weave into it the multiple realities of the previous rooms. The archive accumulated over the course of Chatrooms is then activated through the bodies that enter.

The archive encompassed texts, prompts, costumes, props, wallpapers, and character profiles from the previous rooms. Through the instructions and action cards, participants would respond to the archive by performing bodily movements, initiating conversations, writing fragments of texts, reading out loud a piece of dialogue, or even putting on clothes. Small white cards hanging from metal clips acted as open scripts for the room’s inhabitants.

Outside the room, there was a high chair with a ladder that you could climb. The chair towered over a two-meter-high curtain that wrapped around four columns to make up the three walls of the room, and a four-metre-high flowchart printed on silver fabric was hung opposite to it, next to the high chair. The curtain had two faces, white on the outside and silver on the inside. From the inside, together with a green wall, it formed the boundaries of the room. The ground was covered with silver holographic flooring, along with green and purple neon lights. The green wall welcomed the participants with a written ‘Room Guide,’ and held the Chatrooms written archive.

On the left, mounted over the curtain, was a TV screen that showed green writings on a black background. Below the TV, on the floor, there was a small blue stool with a headset and a music player next to a black box with bananas and tangerines. Next to the black box, there was a chair and a wooden desk with a silver laptop on top of it.

On the right, there was a small step-chair, an amplifier connected to a mic, and a clothes rack with a selection of colorful pieces of attire. Close to the green wall, there was a tripod, a camera, a megaphone, and an archive folder. Near the entrance, the room had white clipboards dangling from the curtain, assigning a set of possible roles. Participants could choose to perform one of five roles: Writer, Listener, Speaker, Performer, and Director.

To re-stage a ‘room’ in an exhibition context2, the experiential processes of convening and conversing were dissected into fragments and smaller elements. What was extracted then made up the archive of the ‘rooms.’ Extracting these smaller elements from the previous Chatrooms and allowing participants in “The Exhibition Room” to combine them together in a performative style made it possible to create parallel iterations and narratives of the lived past experiences in the rooms.

This room is the last part of “Chatrooms: On Curating Spaces” in collaboration with Sarah Maher. “End of Year Exhibtion” was curated by Wael Shawky and Berit Schuck and partially supported by MASS Alexandria.


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