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Mishandled Archive



Tara Fatehi is Unbound’s Guest Editor this month, offering a text guiding readers on a fal through Unbound, turning to some of our titles to ask for guidance, direction and a remedy for uncertainty. 

In this gem of a book, Tara Fatehi Irani expands even further her vast creative exploration of how remembered histories link to global networks of bodies, spaces, and temporalities. Deploying a range of media from the oldest known to human communities (oral history and gossip) to the newest (social media), passing through archival research and modes of documentation, Fatehi Irani’s nomadic performative process creates new worlds. This book both informs and dazzles for any interested in history, memory, archives, and performance.” 

Professor Amelia Jones,  University of Southern California


With multitudes of stunning photographs, dance scores, essays and stories told in hashtags, Mishandled Archive records and reflects on Tara Fatehi Irani’s intentional scattering and displacement of a family archive. Elegantly designed by David Caines, the book offers a space to reimagine what it means to create, disseminate, dismantle and continue the life of an archive. 

it is a process that opens up new possibilities of using history, not as a backdrop to our lives but as a material to be played with, distorted and appropriated. Fatehi Irani has created a method of extending our archival stories that lives outside of institutions, history books and photo albums. It is a method for artists but also for archivists of the everyday and historians of the imaginary. If everyone has a story, and those stories are threads, Fatehi Irani’s work is like a loom, crossing and knotting these threads together through encounters of past and present. By mishandling the archive we are making our own marks on it, but also letting it mark us.

Anahi Saravia Herrera,  Signal House Editions, April 2021


Every day for a year, artist and writer Tara Fatehi Irani dispersed fragments of family photographs and documents in public places in the UK, Iran, Switzerland, Kurdistan, Germany, Italy, Ukraine, the Persian Gulf, and in between borders and amongst the clouds. She made a photograph, an annotation, a dance and an Instagram post on the site of each dispersal. 

The project embraces nomadism, taking up temporary homes in unexpected public places and in the bodies of those who encounter it. In this nomadic dispersal, there is potential for sites, bodies and histories to intermingle and reimagine themselves through a fantasy of possible futures. 

Contributions by artists, writers and researchers expand and reflect on the themes of the project including creative engagement with archives, anthropophagy and history, accumulating forgettable objects, fictional kinship, homelessness, and choreographing uncertainty. 

Contributors: Nicola Conibere, Maddy Costa, Diana Damian Martin, Eirini Kartsaki, Joe Kelleher, Shahram Khosravi, Giulia Palladini, Mary Paterson, Marco Pustianaz, Anahid Ravanpoor, Holly Revell and Jemima Yong.


Tara Fatehi Irani’s ‘Mishandled Archive’ publication folds time and space in complex ways, creating a strange weave of collected images, near and distant lives, real and imagined pasts, instagram posts and minimalist dance scores. In its detailed, endlessly reflexive record of a year long performance it speaks of diasporic experience, displacement and new modes of what might be called belonging. It’s a compelling project that celebrates the fragility, tenaciousness and fecundity of memory and the extraordinary capacity of images to summon narratives as they interact with landscape, casting a spell of connection between strangers in locations around the world, from London to Tehran, Newcastle to Zurich.
Tim Etchells, artist


Published by the Live Art Development Agency, 2020. 257 pages, with colour photography throughout.

ISBN 978-1-9164243-9-5