Archives document highly diverse forms of cultural and intellectual activity. Their respective collection specification requires methodical and professional expertise. This applies both to an understanding of the content and knowledge potential of an archive and to an idea about the strategies with which its resources can be scientifically, curatorially and artistically activated and made fruitful. For this project HKW therefore works with a network of partners from a wide range of fields who learn from each other and jointly test new archival practices. These are archival institutions that distinguish themselves through the special quality of their collections and also play a pioneering role in the development of new concepts, accessibility and contextualization of their collections: the Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and Pina Bausch Foundation.
The goal of the three-year collaborative project is to develop and test new methods and theoretical approaches in dealing with archives. As part of the collaborative network, a large number of individual projects will be created, experimenting with the possibilities of knowledge production in archives and proposing methods that combine current sociopolitical developments and epistemological questions.
Communicating international film culture in a lively manner is both the aim and mission of Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art. Working at the point where practice and theory come together, the institute comprises a work space and think tank for the history and presence of cinema with a focus on independent and experimental film. As a communication platform and network, it promotes a dynamic exchange between film, academia, and art. Archive außer sich, a three-year project, is a series of interdisciplinary research, presentation, and exhibition projects dealing with film cultural heritage and its archives. In collaboration with partners holding their own film archives or dealing with them in theory and practice, individual projects are devised that together pursue the questions: What is cultural heritage, what tasks can be derived from it and what exactly is a film archive today? Participating institutions are the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Film Feld Forschung gGmbH, Harun Farocki Institut, SAVVY Contemporary, pong film GmbH, the Master’s program Film Culture: Archiving, Programming, Presentation at the Goethe University Frankfurt, and the Seminar for Film Studies at the FU Berlin.
The non-profit Pina Bausch Foundation was founded after her death by her son Salomon Bausch in 2009. The task of the foundation is to keep the dancer and choreographer’s artistic heritage alive and to transfer the material that she collected over decades into an archive. In addition to the physical material inventory, systematic interviews are conducted to give voice to important contemporary witnesses. These records – in the manner of an oral history – create a link between the documents, objects and media in the archive. Through the stories of contemporary witnesses, the archival materials are given a unique reference to reality. New strategies were developed to convey these links by integrating the oral history documents into a digital archive. In cooperation with the Information Science degree program of the University of Darmstadt, the precedent-setting Linked-Data System was developed, which enables the networking of all information. This innovative database system uses state-of-the-art search technologies and is the basis for future networking with other archive databases. The entire archive inventory is transferred to this data structure. In the future, this digital archive will be made widely accessible to the public.
The Archiv der Avantgarden (AdA) at the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden is unique in scope and structure worldwide with its collection of around 1.5 million objects and documents from the art and cultural history of the twentieth century. The archive is based on the donation of Egidio Marzona’s collection to the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD) in December 2016. The archive includes works of art spanning various media and genres and related contextual materials on artistic work processes, but also on architecture, literature, music, theater, film and politics of the time. The archive is thus also a collection of utopias and radical designs – both in terms of aesthetic values and social standards – and is open to new forms and modes of readability. The Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden continues to develop the AdA as a space of creative action with a flexible archive that tests open, transparent communication and new questions and perspectives. Based on the extensive, open, and interdisciplinary material base, conventional narratives of Eurocentric Modernism, the role of museums as well as the role of modern movements (so-called avant-gardes) can be questioned and new layers considered in their complexity. It also offers points of reference for research on modernism in a global context. Not only will different areas dynamically interact with each other, but also new forms of opening and access will be tested. Together with partners from science, research and the arts, the AdA is developing new pioneering projects in various formats, which allow the archive to act in interdisciplinary work with research and art.