University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh College of Art
Supervised by Professor Neil Cox, University of Edinburgh and Adrian Glew, Archivist, Tate Britain
October 2017 –

A selection of items from the extensive archive of the literary observer and passionate collector Nimai Chatterji (1933–2010)

A selection of items from the extensive archive of the literary observer and passionate collector Nimai Chatterji (1933–2010)

This doctoral project examines the archive of Nimai Chatterji. The collection, comprising some 100,000 items, was conceived as a means to document and explore experimental art of the twentieth century. Chatterji described his process as ‘creative accumulation’ and titled his repository ‘an archive of the avant-garde’. The project will provide insight into the structure, form and contents of this newly catalogued archive and consider its implications for art histories of this period.

Chatterji was interested in experiment, transformation and ‘intermedia’ – a term coined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and reused in the mid-1960s to describe interdisciplinary works. The archive contains artists’ books, journals, graphic scores, records, tapes and documents of performance art. Posters, invitations and programmes evoke the galleries, bookshops and ad-hoc sites where exhibitions, readings and events took place. Chatterji wrote and received letters from artists, writers, composers and critics.

My research examines the nature and significance of this ephemeral collection, seeking a new approach to this interconnected web of materials, people, places and objects. Eccentric, chaotic and playful, this archive is a truly appropriate home for experimental works of art.

About Eloise Bennett

Eloise Bennett is a writer and researcher. Recent projects have included the Association for Art History New Voices: Art + Text conference (2019); Artists’ Books Residency, Mahler & LeWitt Studios (2018) and a research trip to the Getty Research Institute. Eloise was assistant editor on Virginia Woolf: An Exhibition Inspired by her Writings, published alongside the exhibition at Tate St Ives (10 February – 29 April 2018), which then toured to Pallant House Gallery, Chichester and The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.