Immediately on digesting Princeton art critic and one-time Rosalind Krauss protege Hal Foster's essay Archival Impulse, I was struck by a sense of reading of some of the underlying mechanics of older examples of my work. I realized that I have unwittingly often fit within the Archival Artist definition myself: much of my work that explores the reign and subsequent involuntary exile of the Pahlavi Royal Family of Iran could perhaps be broadly grouped within the parameters of Archival Art.
While my work has rarely overlapped into similar mediums and techniques of, for example, Thomas Hirschhorn's “scrapbooking” style installations or Sam Durant's protest-visuals oriented works, my own works that can be viewed from the Archival Art perspective are nonetheless speaking to cultural memory and often manifested in multiple techniques and mediums. Ironically some of Philippe Parreno's installations appear superficially somewhat closer to my later abstract work in some of the physical forms used in his installations – metallic surfaces, objects reaching the ceiling – but my abstract creations were not conceived of within an Archival Art paradigm. Commonalities in material interest can also be found with New York City-based Irish-British artist Liam Gillick.
My understanding of Foster's concept of Archival Art is that it inherits the impulses of Relational Art and Aesthetics and combines them with cultural memory and resonance. This resonance can vary greatly in how deliberate, exact and detailed the data recalled in cultural memory is, but is distinct from purely abstract artwork in that it carries and transmits specific inherited or historical stories (Sam Durant's Proposal for White and Indian Dead Monument Transpositions), biographical manifestations (Thomas Hirschhorn's Gramsci Monument), or reflections on current culture (Liam Gillick's architectural installation lying on top of a building the clouds looked no nearer than when I was lying on the street). As Foster writes in the opening paragraph of his essay, “however disparate in subject, appearance, and affect, these works—by the Swiss Thomas Hirschhorn, the American Sam Durant, and the Englishwoman Tacita Dean—share a notion of artistic practice as an idiosyncratic probing into particular figures, objects, and events in modern art, philosophy, and history. “
Further into his analysis of the Archival Art phenomena, Hal Foster notes that "... monuments, dedicated to philosophers also embraced by Hirschhorn, effectively combine the devotional aspect of the altars and the informational aspect of the kiosks". This can also demonstrate how broad modern art viewed from the perspective of Archival Art can be – it can at once draw from the history and beliefs of individuals and movements to create architectural-style installations themselves, or, as in the case of Liam Gillick's commercial work on skyscrapers in Vancouver Canada, exist as external augmentations of existing functioning buildings.