Scenes from the Archives
by Onyeka Igwe
Listen to the artist Onyeka Igwe read from a text she wrote about her experience conducting research at the Bristol Archives in Southwest England. Igwe describes the sensation of viewing and handling brittle historical materials, which often evoked physical and visceral reactions, such as during the process of opening poorly preserved film canisters, some nearly one hundred years old. She and a colleague were cataloging items from the collection of the former British Empire and Commonwealth Museum, which held records and ephemera from private citizens and government officials related to the history of British colonization in Africa and beyond. At the time this text was written, Igwe was searching for film stock originally recorded in and around Nigeria by the Colonial Film Unit, which produced moving image reels for propaganda purposes. Later, Igwe personally digitized some of the celluloid found in this archive, including some passages that appear in the film Specialised Technique, now on view in her exhibition, A Repertoire of Protest (No Dance, No Palaver).