Welcome to Archive/Counterarchive

Working Papers Series: Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte: Digital Distribution as Counter-Archival Practice?


ONLINE & FREE:  Digital Distribution as Counter-Archival Practice?: Reflections on Artist-Run Distribution of Canadian Independent Film and Video in the Age of the Platform


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The Working Papers Series:

Join us for the first online iteration of the Archive/Counter-Archive Working Papers Series, which brings together PhD students from different Universities to hear about exciting doctoral research in the area of archival studies. Our first speaker is Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte, who is a PhD candidate in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. Based on her new project, “Digital Distribution as Counter-Archival Practice?,” Mariane’s talk will explore digital distribution in Canadian artist-run distribution platforms, and will be followed by a Q&A with the audience, moderated by our student organizers, Michael Marlatt and Caroline Klimek.

Digital technologies have shaken up traditional commercial distribution models via disintermediation and shifts in power relations between gatekeepers, producers, and audiences. New distribution models have effectively produced a shift from an economy of content scarcity to an economy of content abundance. Moreover, the Internet has fueled the emergence of informal distribution channels in parallel to formal and traditional ones. These include secondary markets, peer-2-peer distribution, and filesharing, but can also be thought of as what Ramon Lobato calls “subcinema,” a film ecology that operates outside the traditional frame. Arguably, the practices of Canadian artist-run media arts distributors, dating back to early mail tape exchange networks, can be understood as always having occupied a space of “informal distribution” or “subcinema.” These are non-profit organizations that are artist-driven and whose mandates are, broadly speaking, to support artists through distribution and other services. They operate in an ecosystem historically characterized by market failure and are driven by an ethos of accessibility and community. 

In recent years, digital means of distribution have become common practice for independent media arts distributors, notably through the use of existing commercial or non-commercial custom-built platforms. In light of the above, it can be argued that these practices testify simultaneously to the adoption and rejection of digital industry models. These ideas bring up several questions: How has digitalization impacted upon the practices of artist-run distributors in Canada? Is digital distribution simply an extension of off-line activities, or does it constitute a new paradigm in relation to the maintenance of a physical film and video collection? How might we consider the platform-based distribution of independent film and video as a counter-archival practice?

Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte is currently completing a PhD at Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) School of Communication, with a focus on Canadian cultural policy and artist-run organizations. In 2019, she received the Canadian Communication Association’s Doctoral CRTC Prize for Excellence in Policy Research for the paper “Creative Canada: A Critical Look at a ‘New’ Cultural Policy Framework.” Mariane obtained an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts in 2012 and has exhibited artistic and curatorial projects across Canada. She has also served as the lead researcher/consultant on various sectoral research and community consultation projects commissioned by national and provincial arts service organizations. She is presently working with the Independent Media Arts Alliance on a year-long research project looking at establishing standard fees and best practices for the online presentation of media artworks. 

Archive/Counter-Archive is a SSHRC project dedicated to researching and remediating audiovisual archives created by women, Indigenous Peoples, the LGBTQ2+ community, and immigrant communities. With 65+ researchers and 25+ partners, Archive/Counter-Archive looks to address how political, resistant, and community-based, counter-archives disrupt conventional narratives and enrich our histories. www.counterarchive.ca 

Registration Information:

Please click here to register! (FREE). The event will take place on ZOOM. Zoom link will be emailed to all who register on Tuesday, October 27th.


Our second Working Paper Series will be held in November at 4:30PM on ZOOM and will feature PhD candidate in Communication and Culture, Ana Rita Morais.