Latest News

Exhibition: ‘Reperforming State Memory – Work in Progress’ by John Beattie


John Beattie

‘Reperforming State Memory – Work in Progress’  

Artist in Residence, The National Archives (2021-2022)


Exhibition dates: 9 June – 30 September 2022  (Mon-Fri 10:00am -5:00pm)


The National Archives’ Artist-in-Residence programme is designed to support the exploration of new perspectives on archival material relating to the 1921-1923 period through the creation of new and original artwork. Public engagement will be a feature of the 24-month programme, providing unique insights into the artist’s creative process, as well as the collections of the National Archives and its role preserving and protecting the records of the State for current and future generations. Through the collaboration, the National Archives will explore new approaches to presenting its collections that enhance visitor enjoyment and encourage different ways of seeing and experiencing them.


John Beattie’s art practice takes the form of still and moving-image staged productions. He examines and re-presents historical events and narratives using a range of imaging technologies in a way that reveals, or makes visible, often unseen or unknown aspects. Through montage, and layering of historical representations and time-frames, the work offers new perspectives on familiar subjects.


Reperforming State Memory, Beattie’s two-year project with the National Archives, seeks to engage with its collections and to work collaboratively with staff to explore different modes of display and representations of archive material. Over the course of his residency, Beattie will create a body of work that re-stages and brings to life a series of historical narratives and events from the period 1921- 1923.


Following his artist’s talk in February, Beattie will now present work-in-progress in the form of two installations in the National Archives on Bishop Street. The work is experimental, and aims to provide insight into Beattie’s creative process and to explore alternative approaches to presenting archival records.


Last year, Beattie documented the installation of the National Archives’ exhibition, The Treaty, 1921: Records from the Archives. A ‘behind-the-scenes’ view of the making of the Treaty exhibition will be presented as a 3-screen video installation in the National Archives’ foyer. In addition, Beattie has constructed an experimental work outside the National Archives’ Reading Room, which combines traditional display methods with new imaging technologies to explore new ways of presenting fragile archival records.