The Archive of an Unseen

  • Installation
Photograph of a gallery installation showing a desk set in a corner where two walls meet. On the desk is a large console made up of a screen below which are a series of black arcade style buttons. The console has a bright yellow side and bright pink front. Seated at the desk is a young man wearing jeans, a t-shirt and a face covering. He is watching a film playing on screen and is resting his left hand on the button panel. On the screen are various rectangular graphic elements containing text and a man speaking to camera. The walls behind the desk are white with strong graphic black lines crossing them in a geometric pattern. One of the spaces created by the intersecting lines is coloured blue, another yellow.
The Archive of an Unseen, installation by Christopher Samuel, Gallery Photo: Steven Pocock. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0).

Scroll through fragments of the artist’s life story, growing up black, disabled and working class in the 1980s, in this interactive artwork.

Christopher Samuel’s work addresses the imbalance of representation in medical and social archives to build a better understanding of the wider spectrum of the human experience.

Move through a digital archive of Samuel’s childhood from before his diagnosis at age seven, being registered as disabled at age 14, through to leaving high school. Layers of audio, video and photography form what he describes as an “expanded documentary” of his life. These are presented in a custom-built re-creation of a Microform reader – a viewing instrument usually operated by specialists – echoing the medical scrutiny he experienced as a child.  

‘The Archive of an Unseen’ is commissioned and supported by Wellcome Collection and by Unlimited, celebrating the work of disabled artists, with funding from Arts Council England.

After ‘Medicine Man’ closes on 27 November 2022, ‘The Archive of an Unseen’ will be installed in the Reading Room from 12 December 2022.