Archives, Past Perfect, and Fiona Apple

After a weekend/weekday/mini-weekend/second-Monday/another-weekend-type of week, I’m honestly surprised I got much done last week. But as I’ve learned to expect, it was an eventful week that kept me busy and on my toes.

First of all, I have something to celebrate – I’ve finished processing! I couldn’t quite believe it when I’d done it. For half an hour or so, I paced back and forth between my shelves to make sure it was true – and sure enough it was. It’s a beautiful sight, really. The collection started out like this:

And now looks like this:


You know those moments you have when you realize you’re right where you belong and what you’re doing makes you happy? That’s how I feel when I see my stuff put in order. It truly makes me heart swell in happiness and all seems right with the world. (I’m only partly exaggerating lol). Pretty and accessible. What more can you ask for?

So now that my processing is done, I’ve moved on to entering records into PastPerfect and after I’ve finished that, I’ll be working on the finding aid. After a few hours of stumbling maneuvering around PastPerfect and learning how to correct avoid mistakes, I’ve picked up quite a bit of steam with the entering of my records, and am at this point finished with my item level descriptions of all of my moving images, audio and promotional materials, and artwork. After I finish entering the paper files in the collection, I’ll move on to the finding aid. And yes, I am excited about doing that too.

Last week brought something else exciting – the introduction to my next project. As I’d mentioned in my last long post, I had a meeting with the Kristina Isabelle Dance Company early last week. The meeting went great, and I was immediately introduced to the materials I’ll become intimately acquainted with in the next few weeks. It was great to meet Kristina and I’m looking forward to working with the material. It will be the most born-digital material I’ve worked with in a collection yet. She has loads of DVDs, external hard drives, and other digital material. She also has some great analog materials as well. I’ve already got loads of ideas of things I’d like to do to help the company with the beginning of their archives. You’ll be seeing all of these things in the weeks to come.

I also got the opportunity to visit the Historic Costume and Textiles Collection at OSU which was unreal. As many of my friends know, I’m kind of in love with textiles so this was the sort of place I’ve dreamed of. I was blown away by the phenomenal things in this place. However, today I’m going to just leave you with a teaser, because honestly – this place deserves its own post entirely. (It is also worth mentioning that the picture below is not how the materials are stored permanently. This was a new collection being processed. I just love the look of the layers of fabric. You’ll see the proper storage when I make my longer post.)

On Friday, rather last minute, I decided that to go ahead and make the 3 hour trek to Cleveland to see one of my absolute favorite musical artists- Fiona Apple. In retrospect, it was preposterous that I waffled over the decision to go, especially as I’d never seen her live before, and had regretted missing my chance to do so ever since she last made it to Oklahoma in 2006. Either way, though, I decided to go and was absolutely, 100%, giddily happy about my decision to go. She’s an amazing performer and one of those musicians that sounds even better live than on an album. I was amazed by her sheer energy and the power that resounds from her voice and tiny, tiny body. It was a powerful experience to finally see someone whose work I have admired for so long in person.

And it really got me thinking about what it is that I do – what I’m doing at DHC, Ballets Russes Archive, TRI, and what I want to do beyond this. I’ve spent most of my days working with the materials of artists and dancers whose performances I will never see. Sometimes it’s easy to see them just as materials that need to be preserved, not as reminders and proof of soul-bearing experiences and the gift from an artist to an audience. But that’s what it’s all about, right? Remembering the things artists share with us, the pieces of themselves that they lend, however briefly, to an audience.And as archivists, we’re in this awesome position to help these legacies and memories make it on to the next person who is searching for inspiration, a glimpse of a process, a piece of a moment that made their world brighter, or someone who wants to assure that the memory of someone or something makes it on to the next audience. We’re in a position to put context to materials, let an artist have a personal say on what their work was about, who they were, and pass on what they give to us to yet another audience. We hold this collective artistic spirit in our hands and have the chance to sustain it for as long as someone needs to see it – whatever their reasons may be. It’s beautiful really and anything than ‘just materials’ that need some acid free casings and an index. It’s an incredibly important endeavor that deserves the most attentive and passionate people on all fronts. I’m lucky to be a part of it all.

Photo by Mark Romanek

So, not only was the concert good for my general demeanor, it was also an excellent marker of the transition I’m about to make – working with fixed materials to working with a company that is alive and thriving and renegotiating their materials every day. It was the perfect reminder of the amazingness that is art and performance.

Also, Fiona, if you ever need an archivist, I’m your girl 🙂

(And that goes for the rest of you too! )


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2 Responses to Archives, Past Perfect, and Fiona Apple

  1. katkimbell says:

    Hi Tara – Great to read your blog. Looks like you’ve found a lot of great stuff! If you are back in Oklahoma and I’m still in Texas, I would love a tour of the archives there! Good luck – Kat Bell, 2011 DHC Fellow

  2. Jeri Smalley says:

    I love the “pieces of themselves” paragraph and how going to a live performance sparked that realization of the importance of what we do.

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