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The Gatekeepers

Ruth Maclennan

United Kingdom, , 2001
15 minutes, Colour, Stereo, 4:3
Original format: SD video
Available formats: DVD / SD Digital file

Archivists usually go unnoticed, but here they are the focus of attention; they speak for themselves; interpret their own roles-perform for the camera. Work environments influence people’s behaviour; physical surroundings as well as the minute detail of office hierarchies affect the way people move and interact. These interviews take place in the archives’ strongroom and reading room. The set-up is simple, and the archivists speak on their own, and for themselves. The archivists’ demeanour and their answers suggest the presence of an interlocutor, but she is firmly absent. The obtrusive editing makes that presence doubly felt. The video explores the idea of the malleable self, which is moulded through language and gesture, in order to adapt to, or resist, the different environments it finds itself in. The archive is a real place, but as well as a structure and an institution, it is also a powerful symbol of society’s handling of history and control of knowledge and power.