“Using the idiom of “A wo(man)’s work is never done”, an exploration was called for of what might be considered ‘feminist’ and ‘radical’ – recordings, notes, videos and scores from anyone who considered themselves to be on the margins – artistic, social, cultural, political. There were specific interests in finding: ‘Unfinished’ scores and pieces, and Noise based, Dada, Fluxus, ‘nonsense’, poetry, text sound works and graphic scores. One of the aims was to highlight work that is on the fringes of contemporary new music scenes and interweave this with the archived works of composers in the British Music Collection.
The intention was also to broaden the archive within the restricted time and resources available by encouraging composer/sound artists to register their works with the British Music Collection. The call out and research of the archives has been intense and complex bringing unexpected, diverse surprises, and has radically altered the initial approach to the curation. In creating this exhibition and researching the archive, aural, visual and conceptual links across generations and contexts have been examined.
The British Music Collection like many archives is in a state of change, with inherited cataloguing nomenclatures needing to be updated (classical music categorisations seem quite resilient!), and some fragile works that need digitising for access. The politics, history and semiotics of the archive and the content within – as symbols of flux, in terms of technology, aesthetics and historical context, became part of the exploratory journey to reflect upon. This is just the beginning of an ‘unfinished’ story and there is much more to be revealed in the British Music Collection…Poulomi Desai.”