The Whole Life. Archives and Imaginaries
The Baalbeck Studio Collection And Other Lebanese Sites of Memory
March 26, 2022 @ Haus der Kulturen der Welt | Berlin

In March, Archive außer sich and its project partners will be part of The Whole Life. Archives & Imaginaries at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. How do archives influence today’s social realities? Can archives be decolonized in the digital space? And how can archives enable alternative ideas of the future? From March 24th to 26th The Whole Life. Archives & Imaginaries will reflect on archives as places for counter-narratives and illuminate the many links between archives and society.

Archives are embedded in a social environment and are part of cultural and political discourse systems. Archivists do not simply extract contemporary knowledge from the past, they tell stories about future knowledge. Archives are thus two things. They are places of preservation, repetition, and reconstruction, in which, say, imperial mindsets from the past are extended into the future. They are also, however, places of potential designs for the future. How can hegemonic continuities be revealed in archival contexts and how do they reflect social realities? The Whole Life. Archives & Imaginaries explores alternative archival technologies, narrative forms, and future scenarios.

„The phantom is material“

“How do they overlap?” asks an FBI agent in Lizzie Borden’s feminist science-fiction film BORN IN FLAMES (1983), in an attempt to analyze the complex structure of an anti-racist female army. The film was part of the program of the research collective Übung am Phantom (Anke Kempkes/Eva Peters/Monika Rinck/Stefanie Schulte Strathaus), which took part in a group exhibition, “when tekkno turns to sound of poetry,” in 1994 at the Shedhalle in Zurich and in 1995 at the KW – Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin. Initiated by Sabeth Buchmann and Juliane Rebentisch, both exhibitions were snapshots of a social discourse around new technologies, feminism, and (conceptual) art, with 40 women taking part in them. In Zurich Übung am Phantom constructed a cinema inside the exhibition for 16mm screenings, but also for talks and performances. In Berlin the Kino Arsenal was used for this purpose. Like many feminist projects, “wtttsop” did not find its way into the archives, at least not into any official ones. Now the tekkno participants have come together once again for Archive außer sich. A reinstallment of the Phantom cinema becomes the space for other forms of archival practice: “The phantom is all there is – that is to say material.”

Archive außer sich is a project of the Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art under the umbrella of The Whole Life: An Archive Project. In 2017 the Arsenal invited others to come and work on the collaborative series of research, event, and exhibition projects. Their contributions will be presented at this reconstructed space: the Harun Farocki Institut, SAVVY Contemporary, pong film, the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, silent green Film Feld Forschung, and the masters program “Film Culture: Archiving, Programming, Presentation” at the Goethe Universität Frankfurt. Others joined in, including the Mediateca Onshore in Guinea-Bissau, the Lagos Film Society, Cimatheque – Alternative Film Centre in Kairo, and UMAM Documentation & Reserach in Beirut.