Familiar comes first: Andy Warhol’s early 1960s ‘Race Riot,’ a silk-screened image of a black civil rights marcher attacked by police dogs. Warhol, our pop Proust, was a child of the archive; he lived in it and never left it. He culled his images straight from the public record — in this case Life magazine — and then made them public in a new way, as a new kind of art, the tabloid masterpiece, the cheesy sublime
Floh: Baby Lotion, 2000" by Tacita Dean
Tacita Dean/ Marian Goodman Gallery
Other artists present randomness as the archive’s logic. The casual snapshots that make up Tacita Dean’s salon-style ‘Floh’ may look like a natural grouping. In fact they are all found pictures that the artist, acting as a curator, has sorted into a semblance of order."
Haji Qiamuddin holding a photograph of his brother, Asamuddin, 1997" from the series "The Victor Weeps: Afghanistan" by Fazal Sheikh
"Each of the four pictures in Fazal Sheikh’s ‘Victor Weeps: Afghanistan’ series (1997) is of a hand holding a passport-size photographic male portrait. Statements by the family members who hold the photos tell us that they are portraits of Afghan mujahedeen fighters who had died or disappeared during battles with occupying Russian forces in the 19
Fazal Sheikh and Pace/MacGill Gallery
Although the portraits are in each case held loosely, even tenderly, the words they evoke are passionate. These little pictures — routine, unexceptional, of a kind turned out in countless numbers — may be the only visual link between the dead and their survivors. Here the archival is profoundly personal. But do Mr. Sheikh’s beautiful pictures, or the photographs within them, represent some special, easily approached corner of the great archive that surrounds, shapes and even overwhelms us