Wandering Archive Project Background

The Wandering Art Metropole Publications and Ephemera Archive: Part 2
Produced by Project Space in partnership with Art Metropole

The Wandering Art Metropole Publications and Ephemera Archive: Part 2 will feature pieces from the Art Metropole Publications and Ephemera Archive (based in Toronto), presented on mobile support structures by Shane Krepakevich. During the course of the exhibition, artists Julia Feyrer and leannej will interact with the archive in new and unexpected ways.


In the spring of 2012, I was invited by Project Space in Vancouver to participate in Art Metropole’s Wandering Archive. Since Art Metropole is in Toronto, I was given a list of holdings in the archive and I was asked to come-up with a proposal. I did manage to visit Art Metropole in the summer, where I looked through the archive.

My first question was, “What connection does a wandering archive have to the community in its host’s location?” And normally, I think the answer would be, “very little.” However, General Idea, the founders of Art Metropole and the originators of the materials in the archive have a very deep connection to Vancouver and to the Western Front—my workplace from 2000 to 2008.

While working for FRONT Magazine, I discovered back issues of FILE Megazine. (Secretly, or maybe not, I always wanted FRONT to be as cool as FILE.)  I was especially taken with FILE’s early issues. They did not take themselves too seriously. A rarity. There is an excellent article in Art Forum Magazine by Diedrich Diederichsen,  who refers to these early issues as “friendly.”

Project Space–an emerging artist run centre–has a similar inclusive friendliness. Their audience is young, enthusiastic, and very hands on. When I started at FRONT, it had been published for at least a decade before I began. In contrast to my time at FRONT, I chose the early issues of FILE because I think there is something freeing about starting a new project. Once the project becomes established it gets more difficult to experiment. You have more to lose.

Once I had decided on the materials I was gong to select from the archive, I also had to make a decision on how to make the materials meaningful for the audience that would be viewing it.

Just to be clear, the Wandering Archive is what is left in the backroom of Art Metropole. The cream of General Idea’s archive is in the National Gallery. Given that. There is very little that we could do at Project Space that would even hope to compete with what has already been done with the archive in the National Gallery.

Also, Project Space asked that I consider a way to make the archive meaningful to Project Space. They did not want to have their gallery taken over by this Toronto archive. That is when I began considering how we could create an archive of our own that would stay in Project Space, long after Art Metropole’s archive went, well, where ever it is going next…