Unsorted Donations


Not a consistent story. Gaps, Diversions
Lack of Context. Need to track provenance
Things getting muddled
Important stories. Why something is kept. Can we look after it?
Is it worth keeping?
New deposit. Living Subjects
Ethics of the kept – privacy, data protection
What gets weeded out [Appraisal]?
Some material more vulnerable than others
Struggle for existence
Expectations of knowing the archive, impossibility
Unhelpful, ‘unsorted donations’, could be anything

Archives are loaded places, with the Archivist managing practicality on one side, sentiment on the other. The phrase ‘unsorted donations’ brings with it two figures: the Donor (known or otherwise), and the User. The Archivist knows that it is desire and imagination that gets the user of the archive through its door – and she is always thinking of users of the future: what they need to find out, and why. Which is where the Donor comes back into play: the decision to donate shows they too are thinking of users of the future. The Artist listens to the dreams and dilemmas of the Archivist, thinking: how can art make mute boxes ‘speak’?

A 10 minute film about Making Space: Towards a Public Artwork and the art event featuring Unsorted Donations at Glasgow Women’s Library in 2010

Unsorted Donations, 2010
Неотсортированные пожертвования

Concealed iPods & speakers among 500 storage boxes
Audio: 10 women describing a family possession in Chinese, English and Russian
Ambient sound recordings of Glasgow Women’s Library (Parnie Street, 2009-10)
A by-appointment invitation
An A4 two sided ‘location map’

Alice, describing a B/W photograph of a naked young woman leaning against tree in France, 2 minutes and 20 seconds, 2010

Marina Shumitskiy, describing a pillow for sewing needles, 1 minute and 13 seconds, 2010

Kama Wong, describing a man’s steel Rolex watch, 1 minute and 47 seconds,
Time length, 2010

Pauline Healy, on Lemon Eau de Cologne and a knitted toy clown, 1 minute and 15 seconds, 2010

Related Resources

Unsorted Donations, 2010. A Collection by Nicky Bird, Making Space: Towards a Public Artwork Saturday 26 June 2010

Bird, Nicky. ‘Artist as listening Post,’ Transmission: Hospitality, Sheffield Hallam University, July 2010

Bird, Nicky. ‘Voyaging Voices: Reflections on a Glasgow Women’s Library Residency,’
Public and Personal Archives – Creative Negotiations, University of Sussex, Brighton, 4 April 2014

Bird, Nicky. ‘Voyaging Voices: Ethical Encounters between Donor, User, Archivist, and Artist,’ Feminist Ethics in the Archive, Glasgow Women’s Library Symposium Event, CCA, Glasgow, 17 September 2014

A Glasgow Women’s Library project funded by Creative Scotland Public Art Development Fund

Thanks to:

Fiona Dean, Artist and Project Co-ordinator, Making Space
Hannah Little, Archivist
The Making Space Group, Glasgow Women’s Library
Shaun McMullan, Artist
Adele Patrick, Lifelong Learning and Creative Development Manager, Glasgow Women’s Library
Nisha Ramayya, Poet

All staff and volunteers at Glasgow Women’s Library

TOP IMAGE: 500 boxes, Glasgow Women’s Library, Parnie Street Location, 2009. (Detail). Photograph by Nicky Bird