Through a mishandled archive

  • Tara Fatehi Irani

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This is a long story, written and unwritten histories with a twist, many thoughts – ceaselessly framed and unframed, thought and dispersed –, a dream, a puzzle, an experiment, a multi vocal performative experiment with words. Created alongside a year-long series of daily performance-installations in public space by Tara Fatehi Irani, this written experiment is the work of several voices from scattered times and different places. “What remains after the fire?”, they ask. “What happens to dances and stories where material archives do not exist?”, they wonder. “How do we bring change little-by-little, again-and-again, repeating an action every day?”, they muse. “What is possible at the intersection of photography and liveness – in the past, today and in the future?”, they ponder. In an interwoven mesh of histories, a time-travelling Arsonist offers their first-hand narrative of a pyromaniac researcher who destroys archives through millennia to discover other ways of archiving and engaging with archives. In a near future, a mythologist explores repetition, endurance and daily micro-activism through Shahrzād and her sister Dīnāzād of A Thousand Tales. An unfinished draft of a research on the alternative gesturality that emerges through engaging the bodies of the performer, passers-by and audiences is published here for the first time. And a future web-archaeologist discovers remnants of Instagram and Fatehi Irani’s archive in ruins of the digital world. These digital debris initiate several new artworks in the 22nd century. In addition to their specific areas of research, these different voices are exploring how we think through, speak to and write beside an art practice. They practice ways in which creative and critical thinking, writing and making can develop alongside each other without undermining either creativity or criticality. These voices embrace the unfinished, the ambiguous, the fragmentary, the uncertain and the never-ending. “Where is the end, when there is no end?” “What is the conclusion when there is no conclusion?”
Date of Award27 Mar 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
Sponsors Roehampton VC Scholarship
SupervisorSimon Bayly (Supervisor) & Emily Orley (Supervisor)


  • Artistic Research
  • One-year performance
  • Performance
  • Micro-activism
  • Web-archaeology
  • Archive
  • A Thousand Tales
  • historiography
  • Thousand and One Nights
  • gestures

Cite this

Through a mishandled archive
Fatehi Irani, T. (Author). 27 Mar 2020

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis