Archiving in Process

Every time we move, we lose a few things. They get dropped on the sidewalk, distributed to friends, trashed in a mistaken calculation heavily weighted by fatigue.

Digitally, it's no different. Moving from one host to another, one server to another, where ad hoc systems can't quite be rebuilt anew or where grand visions for getting everything organized keep the mess out of site but never quite come together into a new system that contains it all. We, of course, leave images and emails and data behind. Drupal stops supporting our version, the email's broken so we don't see the reminder about the imminent loss of our domain.

These are some of the forces that make institutional ruins.

Telic Arts Exchange was most active in Chinatown, Los Angeles from 2005-2012. In 2008, we started a project called The Public School, which grew out of our basement and outgrew Telic, the organization. As it left its basement womb, it linked up with people and spaces in cities around the world. And it continues to grow and change, as we write these words that seem to be memorializing Telic, the institutional ruin.

In late 2013, we made the decision to wrap up, to close, to "sunset." We distributed our books, our equipment, our furniture, and our space to others. We stripped Telic down to its absolutely bare mininum, the legal documents of its existence and a floating assemblage of events and data sedimented in hard drives of various sizes and materials (rounded blinking techno-plastic to square, austere titanium). We've finally found the time and space to put up the last website and are embarking on a process of working through our archives.

Are the forces of ruin being put to a halt? Reversed? Can re-animated institutional ruins operate in new ways that they couldn't when they were just going through the stages of growth, bloating, and aging? As much as we and our non-profit consultants anthropomorphize institutions, the beauty of the institution is that it is not confined to human limitations and it very well might find a way to fold its legal paperwork into institutional neologisms, something topographically continuous and utterly foreign. 


Fiona Whitton, Sean Dockray