WORK 31 / CONTEXT / BOXES

BOXES 01/12 I use A4 size and 55 mm thick cardboard boxes to archive all the physical residues of my project or related to my project as well as of myself. As an example I archive my drawings of ideas after they are scanned, a selection of the trash I pick after it is scanned, the sketches of my walks after they are digitized, my fables booklets once they are completed and digitized, cut-outs of my paintings after they have been photographed, the paper notes of the songs I hear when I am driving and can't type on my phone but also airplane and museum tickets, exhibitions fliers, books and all the material I had collected before the starting of my project such as my old booklets (Fig. Picture showing the inside of an archival box. In the very bottom of it one can see a sketch of a walk and above one of the pens I use to draw. Next to it is there is a piece of marble I found next to a temple in south India. Below the orange envelope reporting on my meager Swedish pension are cut outs of an artist book. The book being too big was ripped off from its hardcover and the pages were manually folded to fit inside each box. Above the orange envelope is a piece of a mug that broke still however preserving part of the image of my girlfriend and I printed over. Often it is those small pieces that can really fill a box that otherwise have empty margins).

BOXES 02/12 The 432 resulting archival boxes are stored in a closet of a barn I have renovated near my native village in the Italian alps. Given that I live most of my time in northern Europe, the material I archive travels long distances, mostly by car across the continent. For the purpose of the transport I make use of a small trailer in which usually four big boxes corresponding to the material accumulated over a year time are placed. Up north I simply throw everything that ought to be archived in a box next to my desk. Only in the summer when I am in the attic of my barn in Italy I take my time to put all the accumulated material inside the various boxes. After a box has been filled I take a picture of it and the picture becomes the only digital reference to the box thus the material at the bottom of the box is not revealed but only the surface. In the project accounts I provide a detailed description of each box (Fig. Screenshot showing me sorting archival material in my alpine barn. To begin with I dedicated a whole room of the barn to let others explore this archive in two large closets I had fabricated on each side. The closets comprised of a total of 36 cubic shelves representing each of the 36 works yet later the subdivision of each archival box became more organic and I stopped subdividing the residues of my project according to the kind of work which lead to a more traditional kind of archiving).

BOXES 03/12 This work is similar to other archival projects such as Andy Warhol's boxes and Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion Chronofile. Moreover, as in ancient Celtic, Viking or Egyptian traditions I intend to have my remaining placed in the last of these boxes. More specifically I wish my body to be burnt and the ashes be located within. However I acknowledge that most of the archived content will quickly deteriorate such all my drawings made on cheap office paper. Some of the content of these boxes may however survive over time like my illustration made on acid-free paper and some of the more valuable objects I have placed in the boxes. Also I have intentionally archived both some physical as well as digital back-ups of my project. These back-ups are quite long-lasting yet still only with the active role of viewers looking through the archive and replicating certain of its elements its content can live (Fig. Picture of Clemence Pons, a young French curator in the barn attic going through each and every box of the archive to later write an article she never got published. Interestingly the academic notions with which scholars can read these kind of archives are always most denigratory and seldom catch the precariousness of these sort of marginal practices kept up in marginal places like a mountain barn with an old roof).

BOXES 04/12 The archival boxes themselves were bought in Sweden and the archive was initially kept in my apartment there. Perceiving the danger of left ideologies and the consequent rise of right wing nationalism, I at last loaded my archive in a small van and drove it to my girlfriend's place in the Netherlands. The long journey by car coincided with waves of migrants moving the opposite direction. At that time I felt that the Europe I had dared to cross as a young man when the boarders were widely open was now coming to an end and I could have stayed stuck up north. I felt like the young Christopher McCandless in the wild of Alaska or my father in Canada, both unable to make it back south. Later I drove my archive to my barn in my native alps where I thought it to be safe yet with the building of my museum and the local far right campaigning against it, the barn became subject of possible retaliations (Fig. Screenshot showing me in my one room Swedish apartment getting helped by my oldest son to sort the archive. At first I used envelopes and later switched to boxes. Unable to buy the exact same boxes in Italy, I bought a whole new batch of 432 boxes and permanently migrated all the content there. The boxes are made of cheap cardboard and are meant for office archive in well protected indoor spaces unlike my barn which is subject to minus degrees temperature during winter).

BOXES 05/12 The archive does not only consist of discarded scrap material but also of some things of value such as the medals my Brazilian part of the family wore and other memorabilia that was of no interest to my close relatives who always excluded me in their greedy appropriations of the family inheritance. In this respect I never own anything of value other than the actual tools I need to accomplish my project. Additionally, while I can be easily accused to be a hoarder with compulsive disorders, I always get rid of what I believe it is not essential, keeping always the same clothes until they are completely worn off and also using my tools to the end making quite a strict economy of what I own. Like an ancient tribe man from the steppe then I live my life as a nomad with little belongings only having a fixed location, the place where I wish to be buried. While I in fact do not care about my body, I only find a roof for my project, in this case for my archive not caring about having myself a roof above my head (Fig. Screenshot of an early set up of the archive in the wardrobe of my one room apartment in the Stockholm suburbs. Already here one can see a wooden box saying “treasure” where the memorabilia of my family have been collected. The real valuable family treasure has been melted by my mother into gold bullions and put in a bank safe).

BOXES 06/12 Upon reaching my mountain barn at the beginning of each summer, I spend several days unpacking the boxes I have filled during the winter. I then use a round table that belonged to my grandparents to try to fill the boxes as much as possible. Small items in particular are good to fill the empty spots left by bigger items yet some items have to be excluded from the archive given that they are too big and cannot be disassembled into smaller pieces. So while for instance I can archive in a box my old pocket cameras, and USB flash drives and other equipment like my old smartphones making sure that batteries are removed not to compromise in the long run the whole archive, I am unable to archive my laptops that are too big and are anyway kept in the proximity of the archive stuck in a pile and untouched, with still the memory and the operating system and the softwares installed within just in case one day I might make use of them again in the wake of for example a war (Fig. Picture of my attic showing one of the closets I use to archive the 432 boxes. In the near closet I store the empty archival boxes still flat and in need to be assembled. The attic was initially used as a showroom for my project but later it became more of a conventional place where to receive guests and introduce them to the archive).

BOXES 07/12 I make it a point to also archive parts of myself. For the purpose I keep an empty jar in the toilette where I save all my nails and when the jar is filled I put it in a box for later archival. If I cut my hairs I also save them in a bag and use it to fill up an archival box. In a box a viewer could also find one of my teeth but also body parts belonging to my kids like their first hairs being cut or their baby teeth (Fig. Picture of the content of an archival box. The box mostly contains some of my paintings that I have cut with a guillotine after documenting them. The cut-outs of the paintings however leave empty edges and I use small objects to fill them. Here not only there is an old pacifier of my daughter but also a piece of the umbilical cord of my youngest son. In this respect I often have to make a choice of things that are worth archiving and things that can be thrown. Generally I keep things that are strictly related to the project. My children are certainly part of it. They emerge throughout various works such as in films, in the journal entries and in the old acquaintance photo-albums. Interestingly several myths relating to the archive of vessels prior the deluge also include the sons and daughters of the archiver as well as his wife and their partners. I like Noah potentially may archive eight persons in total: myself, my girlfriend, my three kids and their respective partners).

BOXES 08/12 I realize that the more I go forward into my solitary adventure, the more I grow isolated and like the archives of many outsider artists, when I die or I get too old all my stuff packed in the boxes could be in fact thrown away for the barn to be sold. Anyway if unsold the snow and the summer hurricanes emerging with climate change will eventually damage the roof and consequently with some time the whole archive will be compromised. In this respect I do not have so much hope for anyone trying to save the actual content. What I find it relevant however is the actual practice of stowing away material goods, keeping life itself rather clean and without being surrounded by accumulation. This said it is also true that I do not impose this tidy lifestyle to anyone. While all the books I read are archived and only a few books are in my shelf waiting to be read, I could spend my life with a partner stocking everything since her childhood and never really going through anything. In this respect the archive is also an essential trace of a human life that is not too much nor too little but comprehensive as a way to gives additional indications to the digital project (Fig. Picture of a nicely blended archival box. Here one could also feel the work behind my project with all my stained booklets filled with annotations and sketches bringing the viewer further in the past).

BOXES 09/12 I have a strong understanding on how quickly and suddenly the digital technology I use to make, store and present my project can stop functioning. Within only a year or less of inactivity my life work could be completely inaccessible and obsolete. While I also keep a back up of the whole project on-line for public access, if the hosting provider is not paid this back up would also quickly cease to exist. I am very much in doubt that my project could be of any interest to be preserved by anyone yet I believe that the more time passes, the more it can become of interest. In this respect I have planned to fill the archive with proper archival material such as print outs of parts of the more graphical works of my project in miniaturized formats. For the audio video material I have planned to add to the archive digital copied burnt on M-Discs blue-rays, a format that is supposed to last longer than the usual and very ephemeral storage devices (Fig. Screenshot of a box where among other things I have stored my illustrations. While most of the things in the archive are likely to disintegrate, by the end of the project at least this work and other items might survive the usury of time. Learning however from other case such as that of Vivian Maier, the nanny also archiving all aspects of reality in boxes, it is likely that if a curator access my archive only certain things will be kept instead of others).

BOXES 10/12 In the years before the beginning of my project my life was very unsettled, moving from one country to another just so as to find my way to proceed with my artistic aspiration. In all this moving around from Italy to Canada and then finally in Scandinavia I only kept what was most essential. Some of my early art works were stored in my stepfather's mother garage, a garage I used to paint. Given my mother maniac approach to keep tidy and have nothing artistic or organic in the house, I was soon obliged to throw all my early artistic productions away. I only kept some of my notebooks, with all my books and anything I might have been attached to already being cleared by my mother obsession for total blankness. After I reconnected to my father side of the family I instead found a propensity to keep items with a deep personal and family value in display. I then also began to introduce to my own life-style this approach of surrounding oneself of not luxury but items with a strong meaning (Fig. Screenshot showing me using my mother car to toss years of work. To some extent perhaps my artistic practice emerged from the unnatural and totally sterile environment in which I grew, slowly developing my own organic culture which had to be confronted in time also with the sterility of an academia claiming to be dealing with culture without detaining any actual substance).

BOXES 11/12 The interpretation of my project via the content found in the archive could provide a highly different perspective then the one I myself provide by for example writing about my project. Other elements may emerge from a distant past such as the adherence in my youth to the very far right movement I so much fought against when planning to realize my museum. Politically then I have understood that if the left marks archival practices as dictatorial ones, as the work of the “arkeions”, the Greek magistrates who both archived and dictated the law, the right does not want to have anything to do with personal history but only with a made up history of people and their courage against specific enemies. Under this tight political grip I have dared to keep up my archiving possibly with a poetic sense of the fragility of human life, a fragility set by the very politics governing and stirring life on earth. In this respect I with my archive make my personal claim as an autonomous individual challenging these political powers, a claim that is very weak but finds its voice in its consistency over time which no political power can endure (Fig. Screenshot of a year worth of my boxes ready to be put in the dedicated trailer and drove across Europe to be archived in my native alps. These yearly journey per se goes against the new rise of borders and forms of nationalism).

BOXES 12/12 In an ideal exhibition the archive should be presented in one of the side rooms to the main exhibition hall. Here the actual context in which I have archived the 432 boxes should be recreated and the closets of my mountain barn should be installed with all the boxes within. Wearing gloves a visitor at the time can immerse him or herself in the disclosing of a box at a time being instructed to put the archive back in order. Photographs and digital replication of the archive is here essential for its future propagation. The small ladder I have used to place the higher boxes in the closet should also be available to use (Fig. Rendering of the ideal exhibition where the wall hosting the archive is red highlighted. To a certain degree the operation of archiving boxes in my mountain barn is similar to that of my ancestors spending their summers to produce round cheeses and keep them in cool environments to season. The barn is in fact just half of a building, the opposite half being occupied by the wood an old mountaineer carefully. Like me with my archive he is also very considered about this wood, moving it from one place to another to dry. While this wood will be burnt only to generate heat for himself perhaps my archive can be of use also for others. A chronology should not be sought however as some items were placed after others as I got a hold of them later in time).