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The Archives Project: Common Field x Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (LACA)

As part of Common Field’s intentional sunsetting work, the organization’s physical and digital materials will be housed at the Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (LACA) and available to the public for research beginning in 2023. LACA is also the recipient of Common Field’s final organizational cash assets to support their critical work for the field.

The Common Field collection at LACA represents a wide breadth of documents pertaining to the functions of the organization, spanning the lifetime of its preceding program, the Hand-in-Glove conference, up until Common Field’s eventual closure in 2022. The majority of the items were generated during the active years of Hand-in-Glove and Common Field, from 2013 through 2022. The collection also includes a number of items related to a much earlier group, the National Association of Artists’ Organizations (NAAO), as well as other projects developed by members of the Common Field network.

The collection was conceived with potential researchers in mind—artists, scholars, and activists with interest in institutional critique, nonprofits, organization structures, power dynamics, representation, art and money, private foundation initiatives, and contemporary art in the 2010s will all find points of intrigue. Items include but are not limited to documents of correspondence, notes from staff and board meetings, press materials, written articles and reflections, transactions and receipts, budget spreadsheets, survey responses, event plans and schedules, tax forms, reports, employee contracts, and project media, i.e. photo and video. Within the scope of materials never before available to the public is a wide array of drafts and commentary from internal production processes, such as those related to Common Field’s 360º audit, leadership transitions, the development of annual Convenings, the wording of mission statements, and distribution of funds, to name a few.

Special attention has been given to the preservation of Common Field’s filing system itself, particularly its extensive utility of Google Drive as well as numerous Google accounts of individual staff members. In other words, the collection prioritizes the display of data dealing with the daily labor and environment of Common Field, with files appearing as in situ as possible—arranged as they were housed within the working storage structures. This has required meticulous manual reproduction of metadata, with dates of origin and file ownership prioritized.

The materials for this archive were processed and organized by Common Field’s Archives Coordinator, Zach Whitworth. Zach is also an affiliate of LACA and is coordinating the transfer of these materials to the archive. Upon Common Field’s closure, LACA’s staff will continue to develop the collection independently and provide public access at their location in Los Angeles, California.