Initiated and led by Donatella Barbieri, ‘Encounters in the Archive’ is a research collaboration between the Victoria and Albert Museum and London College of Fashion, focusing on the V&A Theatre and Performance archive at Blythe House. By taking the film camera into the archive at Blythe house, this project has made it possible to articulate the meaning of costume in collected and archived museum objects.

Central to this investigation is the involvement of six artists / researchers (named to the right), whose practice is concerned with dress and with performance. These participants were invited to encounter specific corresponding to their research interests. Their spontaneous responses to the costumes formed the basis for further creative work, documented here in their individual pages. At the same time these responses began to voice the performative values of costume.

Captured by the camera, the interaction between artist, object and archive is encapsulated in the 17 minute film included in this website and exhibited in the V&A’s Transformation and Revelation: Gormley to Gaga. Made by filmmaker Netia Jones, whose camera intensifies and highlights the quality of the encounter, it immerses its audience into the space and the experience of the archive itself.

This film was the pretext for further discoveries about reactions to costume in archive.

Photograph by Donatella Barbieri