Louise Curham uses her art and her expertise as an archivist to explore how we can look after things we can’t digitise. Louise invites us to think about the wisdom that accompanies things we want to keep and how we can pass that on.
Keeping heritage can be a difficult business. Our commonsense assumption is that the internet and digital systems will save and store everything, but some things don’t digitise well. Here’s an example: under the nom-de-plume of ‘Teaching and Learning Cinema’, an artist-colleague and I re-enact Expanded Cinema, a form of live art that involves film projection and performance. One of our projects re-enacts a seminal British expanded cinema work, Guy Sherwin’s Man With Mirror (1976). When we first made this re-enactment, we produced a user’s manual. We recently tested the manual with Australian artist Laura Hindmarsh.
Laura’s experience shows that the ‘item’ Man With Mirror is an example of heritage that can’t be comprehensively recorded and transferred textually or diagrammatically. It includes a batch of ‘embodied data’ that needs body-to-body transmission, passing on in person from one user to the next. For Laura to carry out her own re-enactment, despite the diligent instructions in the manual, she relied upon information conveyed in-person in real time from my colleague Lucas and I, as indeed, before her, Lucas and I had relied upon information from Guy Sherwin to make our re-enactment. What this means is that we need to keep the things, and the wisdom that goes with them.
Louise is a researcher in the CCCR at the University of Canberra, until very recently, an archivist in the Australian Government and an artist who specialises in obsolete technology. Louise trained in film, later in live arts and archives. Both live arts and archives continue to run parallel in her career. Currently finalising her PhD at the University of Canberra, Louise’s research draws together art and archives, exploring how we keep things we can’t digitise. The data set for this research takes the form of performance art re-enactments from the 1970s.
As an archivist, Louise works for the Australian Government, setting policy and curating future archives. As a consultant archivist Louise has conducted significance assessments on several seminal small arts collections. In live art, Louise performs with obsolete media such as 16mm and super 8mm film. She collaborates with luminaries in Australian contemporary, classical and jazz music, in key venues and festivals in Australia and internationally. Louise’s films are in the collections of the region’s film archives.
PhD, Centre for Creative & Cultural Research, Faculty of Arts & Design, University of Canberra (2014–) Graduate Diploma Information Science (Archives & Records) Edith Cowan University 2010
Graduate Certificate Audiovisual Archiving, Charles Sturt University, 2005
Master of Fine Arts, College of Fine Arts, UNSW, Sydney 2004
Bachelor Film & Television, VCA School of Film & Television, Melbourne 1993
A Film of One’s Own [Archive Fever], PhotoAccess, Canberra, November 2015
A Film of One’s Own [Fugue Solos], Performance Space 2005, NZ Film Archive Media Gallery Wellington 2006, Te Manawa ART Palmerston North, NZ 2006
Floodgate (2006) College Gallery, QUT in the OtherFilm Festival, 2006
Moving Still Life Blackwood Gallery Melbourne 1999, UNSW Hutchison Gallery 2002, Kudos Gallery Sydney 2004
Herbaceous, NZ Film Archive Auckland, 2003
Selected group exhibitions
The Stand-in Lab with Lynn Loo, PhotoAccess Canberra 2019
Encyclopedia of Forgotten Things, Faculty Arts & Design Group Show, Belconnen Arts Centre, May 2016 Slowing Down Time, Belconnen Arts Centre 2015, Articulate Project Space, Sydney Mar 2014 & FCA Gallery, Wollongong Aug, 2014
Still Life | Moving Fragments, Belconnen Arts Centre; Tin Sheds Gallery, Sydney 2012
Propositions and Game Plans, Melbourne International Arts Festival, 2007
Selected re-enactment events
Teaching & Learning Cinema expanded cinema re-enactment projects inc. Horror Film 1, CCAS June 2014; Hollow in the Paper, CAST, Hobart 2013; Unconscious Archives Salon, London 2013; The Parlour in 13 Rooms, Sydney April 2013; Imprint, Artspace Sydney, 2009; Performance Space, Sydney 2007.
As curator & convenor
Stand-in Lab events program in the Stand-in Lab exhibition, PhotoAccess Canberra 2019
Poetry Film screening in Poetry on the Move symposium, University of Canberra, Sep 2016
Teaching & Learning Cinema events 2006 ongoing. Highlights include Photochemical Games and 16mm from the ‘70s the films of artist Malcolm Le Grice at Belconnen Arts Centre, Canberra 2013.
Yokohama Flowers with Erik Griswold, Brisbane 2019
In a Bone Way with Debra Di Centa, Dance on the Edge, Belconnen Arts Centre, 2018
Tracer film performance for prepared screen and haiku in You Are Here Festival, Canberra, April 2016 Room 40’s Open Frame with Chris Abrahams, Carriageworks Sydney, July 2015
The Film Remains the Same film performance in You Are Here Festival, Canberra 2014
Unconsious Archives at Café Oto, London, June 2013
SoundOut Festival, Canberra 2013, 2014
Melbourne International Arts Festival, Soak, with the Australian Art Orchestra, 2010
Jazz Visions Festival, Sound Lounge, Sydney, 2010
NZ International Film Festival, Frames Per Second A Film of One’s Own, Auckland, 2009
Waiting to Turn into Puzzles at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, 2008
Val Camonica Pieces, Victorian Arts Centre, 2007
OtherFilm annual festival, Brisbane 2006-8; NowNow annual exploratory music festival, Sydney, 2006-9
Bundanon 2012; University of Wollongong artist-in-residence 2008; BankART 1929 Artists-in-studios residency Yokohama Japan 2007; Performance Space 2007; UNSW union artist-in-residence 2002
Dance films: Knee Deep in Thin Air 1992; Fugue in Pursuit of Flight 1994; Slipped 1997;Doona Grrl, Transparent 2000 Other films: Johnny & Irenie 1993;The Princess & The Pea 2000; Tenho Saudades (with Peter Humble) 2004; Conimbla 2009