Discovery, handling, restoration, interpretation are operations that transform material fragments into public objects and place them in the glass box of the museum display. But what is the logic, which informs the gaze, and the hand, that determines what will make a set of material fragments interpretable objects and distinguish them from others that will become dust, refuse? Artists make visible, or animate, or re-enact archival material in ways very different than the ones a historian would use, and develop practises that create micro-histories of matter. Their works address the question of history as both cumulative and entropic process that remains in touch with the cyclical time of bodily processes and the deeper horizon of the time of decomposition and decay. I will look closely at work of artists whose works open modes of rethinking and interpretation of archival objects through embodied and affective gestures, do not exclude the role processes of witnessing, memory and empathy. Their works articulate different models of memory and importantly take into account erasures and missing pieces.