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In our blog we will be publishing news about the 5th Moscow Curatorial Summer School and examples of the projects — artistic, curatorial, educational and publishing, illustrating the theme "Curatorial Things".
"Interarchive. Archival Practices and Sites in the Contemporary Art Field"
editors: Beatrice von Bismarck, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Diethelm Stoller, Ulf Wuggenig
artistic concept: Hans-Peter Feldmann
curator: Hans-Ulrich Obrist

Cover of the "Interarchive" book.
Published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Koenig in 2002.
"Interarchive" was a long-term interdisciplinary project that explored the role of the archive in contemporary discourse. It was started in the late 90s when a group of students from the University of Luneburg together with Hans-Peter Feldmann started to explore the unfinished archive of a curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist, which at that time consisted of about 1000 boxes with exhibition catalogues, books on art theory and newspaper clippings.

The project lasted for over a decade and resulted with an exhibition and a publication.

"Interarchive" book was produced in 2002 by a team of co-authors and co-editors – Beatrice von Bismarck, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Diethelm Stoller and Ulf Wuggenig.

Not only it presents documentation of the project but also gives a context to the role of the archive in art, museology and cultural studies, reflects on the way an archive functions in the circumstances of globalization and how it shapes a cultural memory.

The book has three parts: "Approaches", "Perspectives" and "Interlinking". The first part presents the structure of an exhibition without catalogization of the project and provides the context of the research by means of archival data, diagrams and charts.

The part "Perspectives" reflects on the archival practices from different points of view. For example, Beatrice von Bismarck, taking the work of Daniel Buren for Dokumenta V as an example, argues for two types of "self-archivist" artist. First type, who aims to reinterpret and re-contextualize his/her previous works in a relation to the narrative of their life. And the second type, who is open to the interaction, using his/her previous works in new context, which creates a correlation between past, present and future. The last part – "Interlinking" – introduces more than 60 modes of working with archival material based on the experience of the archivists of the last 25 years.

Images from – Artpool
Camille Henrot
"Grosse Fatigue"

Still from the video
"Grosse Fatigue"
Courtesy of the artist, Silex Films and kamel mennour, Paris
"The human mind has two irreconcilable fundamental aspirations. One is expressed by our language through a very significant image. It is understood as a synonym of the words 'to know,' 'to grasp', and 'to comprehend'. We can only understand as a totality what we receive to hold in our hands." – History of Speculative thought (1896), Jonas Cohn (translation by Camille Henrot).

"Grosse Fatigue" by Camille Henrot is a result of her Artist Research Fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.

During the six months' research she delved into the Smithsonian's collections of the National Museums of the American Indian, of African Art, of Natural History and anthropological archives; the Astrophysical Observatory; the archives of American art. Camille Henrot collected a great number of Creation myths. She tried to compare them and to establish a structure, where sentences selected from these myths could be placed back to back. It's an attempt to tell the story of the universe's creation, which is impossible for scientific research process (because of the fact that it's "general" and "too broad"), but possible for the artistic practice. Story told by Camille Henrot doesn't work like a logical one. It's actually a cosmological poem appropriated from ancient creation myths and delivered in the style of spoken word. In the visual background there's a series of shots unveiling Smithsonian archival footage. Shots appear like pop-ups moved within and overlapping each other at the screen's surface.

The title "Grosse Fatigue" signals an impossible search for harmonizing a totalizing knowledge. A repetitive pattern in the film, sequences of hands engaging with everything from batteries to sponges, underlines the idea that our desire to encompass all can only be experienced in a very humble proportion: our hands. Moreover, Camille Henrot criticizes western written culture that has built its way of working on destruction. One of the film's perspectives was inspired by the fact that the Museum of Natural History's anthropological collection, and in particular the collection of Native American objects, amassed during the wars. As Camille Henrot tells: "Preservation and conservation are paradoxically acts of destruction, and this classification anticipates the end of the world as we know it. This really resonates with Levi-Strauss' idea that at the root of anthropology is the end of mankind. The collection may allow certain species and certain cultures to survive, but is the notion of being saved by science actually precipitating our own destruction?"

The film was debuted in Massimiliano Gioni's central exhibition "The Encyclopaedic Palace" at the 55th Venice Biennale.
Still images from the video "Grosse Fatigue"
Courtesy of the artist, Silex Films and kamel mennour, Paris
­­­­­Ed Atkins
"The Trick Brain"

Still from the video
"The Trick Brain", 2012
Courtesy of the artist
Ed Atkins is an artist working with high definition or CGI video and text. His works are rooted in language as he works with the narration and writes scripts for his videos.

"The Trick Brain" consists of the footage of the interior of the Andre Breton's apartment originally shot by documentary film-maker Fabrice Maze, new footage and a spoken narrative by Ed Atkins.

Andre Breton lived in this apartment from 1922 until his death in 1966. He left behind the collection of artifacts — books, personal letters, artworks, primitive objects he owned during his life, that belong to his personal story as well as to the history of surrealism.

Breton's family maintained his apartment until 2003, when, unable to find support for permanent museum, the collection was sold at auction by piece with no chance to be brought together again.

The footage by Maze was part of the official cd-rom catalogue for that auction.

In his work Ed Atkins reflects on the loss of this collection, on the simultaneous absence of things, the symbolic death of the object and the idea that one could represent anything, the same way the whole story of the artist, overflown with objects, could be contained in a single file, "the digital performance of an imaginative act that being able to store so much more that we could possibly understand".

The vital part of the work is the script that reveals esoteric meditation on Andre Breton's surrealist ideas and practices as well as thinking of almost mystic ideas around capital.

The script can be found here.

"The Trick Brain" was exhibited at the 55th Venice Biennial entitled "Encyclopedic Palace" and curated by Massimilioano Gioni.

Still images from the video "The Trick Brain"
Courtesy of the artist
Julie Ault
"Afterlife: a Constellation"

Installation view, Whitney Museum
of American Art, New York, 2014
Courtesy of the artist
Photograph by Bill Orcutt
In her practice Julie Ault combines roles of a visual artist, curator, editor and archivist. "Afterlife: a constellation" is a project the artist did for the Whitney Biennial in 2014.

She selected works of David Wojnarowicz and Martin Wong from the Whitney's permanent collection as points of attraction for the installation and placed them among various artworks, texts, and publications, as well as artifacts from the personal archives of these artists, making every element of constellation work as an equivalent participant. Taken out of their original context, those elements allow the new story to emerge, creating around each artifact a certain mythology and prompting different interpretations, which, as a result, makes it possible to place oneself in relation to the shifting timeline of the things.

These things included:

A painting by Martin Wong
A photograph by David Wojnarowicz
A publication by Martin Beck
A sculpture by Robert Kinmont
A stereoscopic photograph by Alfred A. Hart
A text by Julie Ault

An apparition by Liberace
An excerpted passage by William Least Heat-Moon
An interview with Marvin Taylor

Documents and artifacts from the Downtown Collection at New York University

Two heliogravures by Danh Vo
Two paintings and a film by James Benning


Another part of this project was a conversation between Julie and Marvin J. Taylor — archivist and director of the Fales Library and Special Collections at New York University about the way archives build a narrative and make history materialize —linear and rational. "Audience – is an archive" – stated Marvin J. Taylor, meaning that the narrative of the evidence is being re-actualized through the witness' view and it no longer represents the truth itself, but derives from it.

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