The Indigenous Digital Art Archive (IDAA) is a project in its early formations and developed by the Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF) to organize, care for, and make accessible the records of Indigenous digital artists.
The formation of the archive first began in 2017 when Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace mounted their first-ever retrospective exhibition of over twenty years of research-creation and production. Preparation for the exhibition included compiling archival documents and re-activating early ‘net artworks to present in the exhibition; this work formed the basis of the Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace fonds and the starting point for our larger project: the Indigenous Digital Art Archive.
Shared concerns among IIF partners about the lack of Indigenous digital art in archives began much earlier, in the early 2000s. Early digital artwork by Indigenous artists was not being archived, and few people were only beginning to seriously grapple with how to preserve digital media. The need to care for and make accessible the digital work of Indigenous artists was and remains to be paramount to establishing an Indigenous Digital Art History and ensuring that these works can be experienced, and their social contexts understood, by future generations.
Knowing this, the IIDAA was sketched into early visions for the IIF partnership, and today is becoming a reality. Under the organization of Sara Nicole England (MA, Art History, Concordia University, 2018) and Mikhel Proulx (PhD Candidate, Art History, Concordia University), the IDAA has held and participated in a variety of archive-related activities to gather voices within digital preservation, archives and libraries services, and Indigenous art history.
IDAA is a living archive comprised of a unique collection of digital and physical records available to students, researchers, Indigenous communities, and the general public. IDAA is a response to both the need for Indigenous-led archives and the need to develop practices to conserve digital art’s interactive behaviours in a rapidly changing technological world. Combined, IDAA is an exercise in identifying and formulating Indigenous archival practices to address artworks made in complex digital environments.
IIF is developing an online database to make archival holdings available for public consultation. This project is ongoing with plans to launch the database by 2020.
The Initiative for Indigenous Futures
Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art
The Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture
Sherry Farrell Racette (Art Historian and Artist, University of Regina)
Dragan Espenschied (Director of Preservation, Rhizome)
Camille Callison (Librarian, Archivist and Anthropologist, University of Manitoba)
Remembering Tomorrow: Archiving Indigenous Digital Art featured a series of keynote presentations by prominent thinkers and makers from the areas of Indigenous art history + archives; digital arts practices + preservation; and library + archives services. The one-day conference focused on Indigenous determined archives, particularly how Indigenous digital art fits in and with them. The conference emerged out of discussions related to the Initiative for Indigenous Future’s development of its own Indigenous digital art archive.
Sherry Farrell Racette: “Can You Have History Without an Archive? Can You Have Indigenous Scholarship Without the Capacity for Future Media Formats?”
Dragan Espenschied: “A Repertoire for the Born-Digital Institution”
Camille Callison: “Honouring and Preserving Indigenous Knowledge Provides Wisdom for the Future”
Remembering Tomorrow: Q & A with Keynotes
On Thursday, March 14th, Indigenous Futures Cluster presented our first-ever Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. The event was hosted at Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology and supported by Art + Feminism and Wikimedia Canada.
The Indigenous Futures Cluster Wikipedia Edit-a-thon focused on the improvement and creation of Wikipedia content about Indigenous new media artists in North America and the Pacific. We provided tutorials for beginner Wikipedians, supported and researched materials for editing Wikipedia articles and, in particular, built capacity for Indigenous participants to manage and determine how their cultures and communities are represented in cyberspace.
Read the blog post “Recording Indigenous New Media History on Wikipedia” to learn more about the event and how to get involved.
England, Sara Nicole. “Reframing Practices: Why Naming Matters.” AbTeC Blog Post, December 6, 2018. http://abtec.org/iif/reframing-practices-why-naming-matters/.
England, Sara Nicole. “Archiving Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace.” AbTeC Blog Post, November 1, 2018. http://abtec.org/iif/archiving-aboriginal-territories-in-cyberspace/.
England, Sara Nicole and Mikhel Proulx, Is This Permanence: Preservation of Born-digital Artists’ Archives, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, May 11, 2018. https://britishart.yale.edu/symposium-permanence-preservation-born-digital-artists-archives [presentation starts at 51:30].