Conjuring up the Artist from the Archives: Ivar Arosenius

Digitization and Coordination of Archives for Enhanced Accessibility and Research

Mats Malm, one of the leaders of the Staging the Archives cluster, has been granted 4.3 Million SEK by The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, for a project involving a number of departments and divisions at University of Gothenburg as well as the National Museum, Stockholm, and the Museum of Art, Gothenburg.

The project asks 1: how can our understanding of an artist be deepened and developed through digital materials and methods? 2: How can we, from this stand-point, analyze previous practices of conjuring up, modifying and curating artists and works of art in museum exhibitions, publications and studies? What ideological and practical considerations and presuppositions have governed the presentations that have formed the artist for the public consideration?

A platform will be developed for collecting the materials from several archives into a whole, where well-known works, works that have received less attention, and the hidden objects from the artist’s archive – drafts, letters, note-books, photographs and an array of documents – are made available so as to allow scholars and the public to view, filter, search and combine the entirety in new ways, according to motifs, periods, persons, localities etc. The resulting infra-structure is intended to be of general use, and the archives of Gothenburg artist Ivar Arosenius (1878-1909) are used as a pilot project.

The development will entail a number of studies of what knowledge and aspects can be added through different technological developments, as well as what knowledge and aspects are lost or threatened. Another line of inquiry will project the questions on history, studying previous exhibitions and works on the artist in order to reveal how they, from the materials used and ideologies and other considerations impacts, have adjusted the image of the artist as he has been staged at different times and in different contexts. The project thus addresses questions of how cultural heritage has been used and staged in history, as well as how cultural heritage can be used and staged with modern technologies.

The painting above is Ivar Arosenius' Kärleksdrömmar (1905), owned by The Gothenburg Museum of Art (Göteborgs konstmuseum).