2018 – ‘It’s possible I know nothing’ Cataloguing the Carlton Mansions Collection

Photographs of archival material, 2017

Alex Talbott

Carlton Mansions, an expansive and now empty Victorian building in South London’s Brixton, was an active short-life housing co-op for 35 years. In 2014, the final occupants of the building were evicted by Lambeth Council, prompting former resident Matthew Clarke to donate a body of material relating to the co-op to Lambeth Archives. It’s possible I know nothing was carried out over four months to document the cataloguing process of the Carlton Mansions Collection, culminating in a photographic installation in a disused corner of the Archive building. At its core, the project explored the divergence between the messy process of creating an archival catalogue and the relative neatness of its outcome: the creation of a neutral, chronological entry point for future research.

It’s possible I know nothing proposed a shift in focus towards the performative nature of the archivist’s work. It acknowledged that the process is not linear, but that instead, the archive is a space of competing ideas, clashing voices and frustrating absences. This makes the archivist an interpreter, who is subject to distraction, whim and the influence of everyone they encounter whilst de-tangling the paper trail of a period that’s passed.

The materials here are a selection of those used in the original site-specific installation.

Find out more https://carltonmansionscollection.tumblr.com/