HEIRLOOM center for art and archives presents a new strand of programming that combines studio, exhibition, mediation, and consultancy under the title I’m an Archive.
The diverse activities focus on artists’ work with their own archives or those of others. The title I’m an Archive is borrowed from British visual artist Barbara Stevini (1928-2020), who in the later years of her life began revisiting some of the places that had been instrumental to her politically and socially engaged artistic practice. The title is furthermore a loving yet cynical reminder of the fact that visual artists are often themselves the best archives for their art, since the most intimate knowledge and understanding of their work is mostly collected by the artists themselves rather than museums, galleries, or other institutions.
Visual artist Yvette Brackman explores the body's relationship to space and memory. In her installation Moe Mir (My World in Russian), Brackman examines the history and relationship of her Russian-Jewish family in video, textiles, and artefacts incorporating family photos and heirlooms. The family fled the former Soviet Union and spread around the globe.
In her artistic practice, visual artist Yvette Brackman has taken on the responsability of passing on her family’s history. She sees herself as the bearer of knowledge that would otherwise be lost. In numerous ways, she processes this legacy through performances, installations, and video works.
Her installation Moe Mir (My World in Russian) is centered around a collection of photos of Brackman’s family, a family made up of Jewish Russian immigrants who fled Stalin's Russia, scattering all over the world. Using her family’s photo albums, Brackman tries to piece together its history via texts that describe her own recollections and conversations with family members. Addressing herself directly to the persons in the photographs, she fondly depicts the complex relationships between the members of her family. A through-line between the different components is established by the staging of the material as an installation.
Brackman has also reworked family heirlooms: A quilt, a flag, and some items of brass. These artifacts – whose only value is sentimental – are given new meaning by the transference of words and sentences onto them. The new layers contain fragments of family history and tell tales of escape, survival, and adaptation. Brackman thereby establishes links between the artifacts and their previous owners, while also recontextualizing them as objects of art.
The film Of Living and of the Dead (2012) shows Brackman, along with her mother, reenacts her mother’s childhood memories. Brackman explores and examines the way memory lodges itself in the body and how the body in turn can be transformed through interpretation of those recollections.
Yvette Brackman's work is represented in several public collections, including the Danish National Gallery. She is currently a Mads Øvlisen practice-based postdoctoral fellow at the Danish National Gallery (SMK). Between 2000 and 2007 she served as professor and head of the department of Wall and Space at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.