Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

Mining the Archive


Mining the Archive brings together selected works by UK artists Anthony Lam and Erika Tan, who have each used collections and archives as the sources for the production of art.

In “Between Cultures”, Lam has constructed a narrative from a collection of photographs (author unknown) discovered during a residency at the McKenzie Heritage Picture Archive, London, UK. His series of black & white prints reinvigorate the archival material and prompt a reflection on memory, travel, history and the power of the gaze in the context of Britain’s past Imperial project. Between Cultures imparts a sense of ambivalence and provides a visual prelude to the Empire’s end.

Persistent Visions is the culmination of Erika Tan’s research in the Moving Image Archive at the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum. The three-screen video installation uses home movies shot by individuals and families who were once stationed in British colonies. This filmic exploration covers vast regions, from Malaysia to Kenya, from Suez to Hong Kong. Home movie cameras were used to record personal stories of family and working life in a particular place and time. Opening the vaults of memory Tan explores the latent meanings and messages, unearthing personal and subjective histories hidden by the grander structures of empire and questions the ‘inherent’ meaning of archival documentary film.

Other works in the shibition include, “The Collection of International Cultural Cross Dressing” and “Interpretation Space”.