Katayoun Jalilipour is a genderqueer Iranian born multidisciplinary artist, performer and writer based in the UK. They often use their own body as the subject to discuss race, gender identity and sexuality, and poke fun and disturb social norms, primarily through performance art as well as digital mediums such as gifs, video and polaroid photography.

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Archival Affections is an exhibition reimagining and reclaiming modes of traditional archiving. Six artists intervene and transform the archive’s lingering pauses and empty spaces to reimagine what it can hold: including what was (in)visible and once forgotten from public memory.







What’s left unsaid.

This very website.

These are all archives.


They transport us across time and space through emotions, images, and sound, and they preserve the longings and tracings of personal and community histories.


Archives can be cold, isolating, and lonely—even community-centred ones, because they prioritize records over people’s comfort. I get cold and anxious easily and when I do, I’m often met with a stomach ache. The last time I stepped into an archive was in March 2020, and although I haven’t had an archive-induced stomach ache since, my body has held onto all the things that my mind had pushed down for the sake of getting through the day. 

A weight sinks to my stomach whenever I encounter images that remind me of the forced displacements of my community, and a frantic search ensues. 

I must stop looking for familiar faces. I must stop wondering where they are now.

“Losing memory of things said and understood. But still feeling it in the murky depths of our bellies—full of knowing, something more that can’t be spoken.”

- Vanessa Godden in Trudging Congealed Seas (Pilot)

When I first read this year’s themed commission call, I was confronted with everything I had been avoiding. I hadn’t really thought about what I’ve internalized from the images I’ve handled, the ones I’ve cared for, or the ones burned into my memory despite my efforts of looking away, trying to forget. I hadn’t thought about all the unspoken stories that I’ve unknowingly carried, and why they exist.


Over the years, these affections have been growing, demanding attention through the sporadic pangs and twists of my stomach.


As I begin to revisit and understand all of this, I find myself with more questions than answers about the role of archives and archiving. 


How do we trace the (in)visible?


Yuula Benivolski’s Traces is an ASMR video that takes place in a laboratory. The artist dutifully reminds workshop attendees about the importance of sanitization, cleanliness, and pristineness—like the conditions of an ideal archive. Over the course of about an hour, artist Bridget Moser performs as a lab technician, revealing the careful order of steps necessary to lift hidden fingerprints from Benivolski’s personal collection of banknotes from the former Soviet Union. Moser separates the bills and meticulously places them into clear sleeves while diligently wearing gloves and protective gear. Her actions echo that of an archivist—carefully reviewing an item, describing it, neatly re-housing it into an acid-free mylar sleeve, and repeat.


In the final minutes of Traces, the lifting of fingerprints makes me wonder:


How many hands have archival records passed through?

How many hands will they pass through?


And perhaps because this essay was written during an ongoing pandemic, the thought of connecting with others unknowingly through touch is both beautiful and unsettling…


Where else do traces of the past exist?


Lana Lovell traces an archive of movements through natural landscapes. Lovell explores Sophia Pooley’s personal account as a slave being sold and moving between families in Canada. Two manipulated images allude to the potential identities of Pooley and those in her story. One image is colourfully appropriated with sharp fragments while its original reference is currently catalogued as “Unidentified woman.”


The video, Flowers - Childhood, overlays Pooley’s text on footage of wildflowers seen swaying back and forth. Lovell captures wildflowers native to Canada, imagining how these plants may have brought comfort to Pooley in her childhood. Spontaneous and abundant in their growth, the flowers are seen thriving and flourishing. Wedged in between these scenes, Lovell includes footage of a plant with white clusters of flowers—one that is native to Europe and was brought over to Canada. Flowers - Childhood captures entangled histories of forced displacement and Black resistance preserved in a landscape of wildlife.


How do you archive the intangible? Feelings and movement?


In Vanessa Godden’s work, Trudging Congealed Seas (Pilot), the artist reckons with the loss of their family records due to a fire at the archives that housed them. The pilot video includes footage that moves between the years and geographies of Canada and Trinidad and Tobago. Using oral tradition, they weave together interviews asking various family members to share what they know about their Indo-Caribbean lineage. Godden then questions moving beyond words and language in search of answers and attends to their bodily responses instead. Towards the end of Trudging Congealed Seas (Pilot), Godden describes how their “bones are waterlogged, heavy and ragged, flesh bloated from sea salt and sugarcane.” 

Their work is an embodiment of an archive, layering multiple stories/records and keeping alive a landscape of sounds—laughter, waves, trees rustling in the wind, singing, and silence.


Similarly, Camilla Salcedo’s five-minute sound piece Sounds of Caracas layers field recordings that envelop the listener through a cacophony of sounds, from a city bus in Corso Italia, Toronto to bird calls in Caracas, Venezuela. Accompanying this are various GIFs alluding to the origins of the calls and cries. It’s as if the animals are in conversation with each other and as the excitement builds, they begin to speak over one another. Like relatives clamouring over the phone, calling you from a long distance. Calling you to remember them.




“Lab workers are regular people who make mistakes.”

– Yuula Benivolski in Traces


Just like lab workers, archival staff are also regular people who make mistakes. In both cases, there are inevitable consequences.


What does it mean to rely on archives and to trust these records to make sense of ourselves?


What are our responsibilities to each other?

Gut Feelings by Katayoun Jalilipour questions the limitations of archives and their truthfulness—what’s said and what’s left unsaid. In their research, Jalilipour encounters multiple archival records misidentifying Tāj al-Salṭaneh, a feminist Qajar royal. In the spaces created through these inconsistencies, Jalilipour re-imagines a queer history. The artist leaves a voicemail for Tāj al-Salṭaneh in Fragments of Truth. There is an imagined connection—a friendship of care and tenderness—as Jalilipour expresses concern about the rumours and mockery they’ve read and seen circulating online.  


In Fragments of Fiction, 3D models of the artist, Tāj al-Salṭaneh, and the Queen of Spain morph into each other until they separate and individually spin through space. Though centuries apart, time shifts, conflates, flattens, and jumps.


What does it mean to remember the forgotten?


Considering Gut Feelings in relation to Monique Todd’s interactive websiteAltitude Above Hygiene, the gut (and my relationship to my own) takes on another meaning.


Our gut—our intuition—can pull us in and out of directions. This movement through time and space is explored as Todd rethinks waste as abundant while attending to the sounds of empty architectural sites. She connects the act of remembering Silk, a Black queer nightclub in London, UK, to digestive pipage—an information system of “ingestion, expulsion and collaboration.”


In Todd’s 46-second video, Body Undone as Territory, text splashes across the screen calling for a stop in the politeness of remembrance, while shadows of various movements appear walking, dancing, and caressing.


In her accompanying text, “Sacredly Profane Muffling,” Todd expresses,


 “…I see everyone and everything on me, I see me on everything, I see shadows born like new bodies, old bodies… Scum and spirit’s muffled memorializing of ecstasy is the softest of grips, with fingers spread for dripping - an archive soaked.”


an archive soaked.


Our bodies soaked—letting us know when something is and isn’t right. Bloated with knowledge and stories that don’t just belong solely to us.


Filling us up.

Sustaining us.

Giving us comfort and hope.



I had been yearning for the archives as a space where I could make sense of something, anything. I demanded they fill a void and help me release what I no longer wished to carry.


Instead, I am reminded that these desires can be found and fulfilled elsewhere.



Julia Huỳnh (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist and emerging archivist based in and around Nogojiwanong/Peterborough and Tkaronto/Toronto.