Black Archive Alliance
2018 - 20
Exhibitions, interventions, research
The role of the archive in safeguarding and protecting history as it has been selectively preserved is potentially more crucial today, at a time of endless ethereal data ,than it was in the past conservation of photographs, texts, books and objects. Archives require not only maintenance for their stability and protection but also constant use in order for their holdings to extend beyond the darkened rooms, shelves, binders and categories that house them away from the public eye. Within the context of a city like Florence, with an extensive network of archives of historical note and incredible cultural value, it is important to go beyond the surface of these archives to extract and examine what has been undervalued and scarcely elaborated upon. When it comes to findings relating to Afro-Descendent peoples and cultures there is no shortage of archival records but there is indeed a lack of research invested in bringing this record to public knowledge.
Black Archive Alliance was initiated by Villa Romana with Black History Month Florence in this context as an annual research and training project that aims to highlight a selection of documents that reflect the realities and histories of African populations, their diaspora and their representation in a series of archives and public and private collections situated in Florence. The first edition created a virtual map of this archival presence in the city with a catalog that aims to support future research by providing perspectives that foster reflection and address or bring to the surface unanswered questions.
The second edition of the project was carried out with a tutoring format, with teachers and scholars in tandem with students guiding their research within the network of Florentine archives established with the first edition, as well as a few new project sites. The mentors supervised a small group of students in the development of short research projects and writing, with the final outcome consisting in the realization of a text, published in the second edition of the catalog in 2020. This edition, elaborated over several phases, consisted of a research period, a public presentation event and, finally, an exhibition devoted to a selection of the newly commissioned research and the presentation of the catalog.