PHYSICAL BODY OF WORK: a trilogy is a series of experimental short films by Shane Dedman envisioned within a therapeutic artist residency with TAR Project from 2019-2020. Dedman harbors anxiety about the future, and so they persistently use alchemy to transform the tragic into forces of curiosity. PHYSICAL BODY lies between the concepts of whether the loss of an archive is a rite of passage or a tragedy. Documenting and  analyzing the ruin of the artist’s archive from 2004-2018 (including poetry, journals, watercolors, and drawings) Dedman works to investigate the bereavement left behind after a flood. 

How can the hand of the artist alchemize a new archive? This was an experience of creating and maintaining new selves through media by virtue of iterations of degraded information. The videos include spoken word voice-overs, modulated field recordings, and images recorded using mini-DV and DSLR.

“Part I: Amnesia” digs into the effects of the flood on Dedman’s writing archive.

“Part II: Aporia” shows the burning of the moldy, ruined notebooks in ritual. 

“Part III: Folly” is a scripted short that contemplates the internal narrative work that arose when the impression of memory became the only remnant of the archive.

Still from Folly, 2020

As a non-binary, queer millennial filmmaker, Dedman (they/them) advocates for the agency to maintain one’s archive and urges for planning of post-humous archive maintenance in anticipation of  inevitable mortality. They’re obsessed with the concept of the archive as a distorted mirror of life and as a decaying monument. 

They have learned through first-hand research and experience how inaccessible art, video art, and rare films are within academic & institutional archives. They strive to recontextualize the spaces and presentation in which their video work is viewed. With this curiosity comes the analysis of the gaps within the archive; the class division of the privileges of storage space, maintenance of staff and machinery, and thereafter, the protection of these afforded resources... We must all have the agency to harbor our own histories. 

The Archive is not Truth; 

the Archive is Power over History, 

the Archive is Memory and 

the Knowledge one must access, 

to activate it, 

to bring it to Light. 

What remains valuable within the sepulcher? 

How must we digitally and physically curate our realms to leave the essence of our “truest” self ? 

There is no one true Self, 

just as there is no 

one true History.

“That-has-been” will forever be incomplete and will forever react as an evolving body to its shifting environments, just as our psyches adapt to time and the unknown. 

Dedman has been exploring the concept of the archive since they read:

  • “A Museum for James Baldwin” by Fritz J. Raddatz, James A. Baldwin, Magdalena J. Zaborowska, and Theaster Gates from 032c Magazine
  • “Delete Yr Account: Speculations on Trans Digital Lives and the Anti-Archival Part I & II” by Cassius Adair from the DIGITAL RESEARCH ETHICS COLLABORATORY
  • Archive Fever by Jacques Derrida

“Part I: Amnesia” was screened at the 2020 NOFLASH Video Show and was published in Analog Cookbook Vol. 2, a zine about analog film processes. 

Using Format