Nicky Bird

Unsorted Donations

Unsorted Donations (2010)

Not a consistent story. Gaps, Diversions
Lack of Context. Need to track provenance
Things getting muddled
Important stories. Why something is kept. Can we look after it?
Is it worth keeping?
Usability
New deposit. Living Subjects
Ethics of the kept – privacy, data protection
What gets weeded out [Appraisal]?
Some material more vulnerable than others
Struggle for existence
Expectations of knowing the archive, impossibility
Unhelpful, ‘unsorted donations’, could be anything

Archives are loaded places, with the Archivist managing practicality on one side, sentiment on the other. The phrase ‘unsorted donations’ brings with it two figures: the Donor (known or otherwise), and the User. The Archivist knows that it is desire and imagination that gets the user of the archive through its door – and she is always thinking of users of the future: what they need to find out, and why. Which is where the Donor comes back into play: the decision to donate shows they too are thinking of users of the future. The Artist listens to the dreams and dilemmas of the Archivist, thinking: how can art make mute boxes ‘speak’?


Concealed Audio, IPoDs, & speakers
Edited soundtracks of 10 women describing a family possession and what it means to them: in English, Russian and Chinese