Rethinking Archives began as a project to reflect on the forthcoming 50th anniversary of Arnolfini, the centre for the contemporary arts in Bristol, UK.

Following a major refurbishment, Arnolfini re-opened in the autumn of 2005 and in the autumn of 2006 appointed its first archivist to begin the processes of sorting, preserving and cataloguing its archival materials. Archiving Arnolfini raises all sorts of practical and conceptual questions, since Arnolfini does not have an art collection. The majority of its programme is performance or live art and exhibitions, all variously transient, spatial, immediate and experienced in bodily ways which documentation such as video and photography, can only partially capture.

In 2008-9 we ran four workshops at Arnolfini bringing together artists, academics, archivists and audience members to consider some of these questions archiving Arnolfini was raising. This website is organized according to the themes of these workshops and includes documentation, recordings and images from these events. But we also hope here to develop these ideas and discussions, enabling them to inform future events and continuing the process of bringing together archival theory with archive practices.