Reanimating John Latham through Archive As Event

AHRC logoFunded by the Arts and Humanities Reasearch Council


The main objective of the proposed research is to study the writings, correspondence, notes and artworks of John Latham in order to identify the core ideas of his work. This will be followed by the organisation of the material of the artist's archive around these ideas. There are several secondary objectives which will support the main objective:

  1. To design a methodology through which these ideas can be re-animated in an exciting, dynamic and intellectually stimulating way for future scholarship and artworks.
  2. To develop new contextual use for content management software within the visual arts based on John Latham's ideology.
  3. To complete the John Latham archive (currently under development by Camberwell College of Arts) by
    contributing contextual information for each document based on the above study.
  4. To make this material as widely accessible as possible.


This research project is about organising the writings, correspondence and other archival documents of John Latham at his house in South London. The research will produce detailed descriptions of the archive contents and a newly designed database and classification system that will mirror Latham's theories on 'Events and Event Structures'. Without the presence of John Latham, this research will allow his material to be presented to a new generation of artists and academics in a manner consistent with his way of thinking, promoting new work and disseminating his thinking to a much wider audience. Since Latham's death in January 2006, a vast amount of unpublished and disorganised correspondence, writings, video, audio tapes and other material have been found at the artist's house. All of the material relates to Latham's life and work and in particular his ideas surrounding 'Events and Event Structures'. The proposed research project will create a significant archive through in-depth analysis of its contents and innovative classification techniques. This will be
the first time that a classification system has attempted to reproduce Latham's theoretical ideas. This classification system will rely on the content management tools offered by the open source system Drupal. Choosing suitable models for classifying the archive documents within Drupal will be a large part of the proposed work.

This research takes place inside a larger project to create a John Latham Centre at which exhibitions, artist residencies, screenings and other events will take place, all informed by the work and ideas of John Latham. The archive's presence at the centre of this will help reanimate John Latham within his own home. The digitised archive will be available on-line, encouraging wider research into Latham as well as visits to the house itself.

John Latham's ideas continue to enthuse and inspire. This research will enable that process to
continue in a fitting way. An active archive that generates new material, art, performance, events, media or other forms is achievable and appropriate.