The Archive: Savior, Inventor, Witness explores personal archives developed by artists who practiced in restrictive social and political climates during the twentieth century.
Focusing on the diverse roles such repositories have played in recording underground movements, as well as the potential of their legacy in re-orienting the histories that are presented in art institutions now, this two-day conference brings together leading artists, curators, and writers in the field. Structured around six thematic panels, interspersed with debates, interviews, and performances, the sessions question issues of subjectivity, survival, interpretation, and ethics.
Each day of the conference consists of three thematic panels on specific aspects of archival practices. On the first day the role of the archive as a tool, or safety net, against the extinction of certain art scenes and movements will be examined, with art historian Claudia Calirman presenting on Brazilian art under dictatorship, and curator Carol Lu reconstructing works and documents of Chinese underground art of the 1980s and 1990s. The session concludes with artist Koken Ergun’s talk on the archiving effort in contemporary Turkey. The second session, “Petrified Document: Towards the Institution,” is dedicated to the location of archives in contemporary institutions and presents two examples: the archive at Garage and the institutional archive of the São Paolo Biennial. The third part of the conference will underline the importance of data travels in contemporary artistic practice and archive development, with artist Vladislav Shapovalov talking about Soviet outreach programs and their traces in European repositories, and architectural historian Łukasz Stanek uncovering the exchange of ideas between socialist Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia during the Cold War. The first day will end with the Russian premiere of filmmaker Bill Morrison’s 2016 documentary Dawson City: Frozen Time.
The second day of the conference will start with the panel “When to Archive?,” which looks at the temporal aspect of archiving: Emilie Villez (Kadist Art Foundation) will talk about how a young institution approaches the question of institutional creativity; David Smith will reflect on the importance of momentum for archive development, with reference to the history and practice of the Asia Art Archive; and art historian David Morris will describe the practice and strategy of Exhibition Histories, an Afterall book series on significant curatorial projects of postwar art. Dmitry Vilensky (Chto Delat) and Garage curator Snejana Krasteva will conclude the session with a talk on practices of artistic research and the Garage Field Research program. The third session, “Inventing Inventories”, will deal with classification and various techniques of archive interpretation according to personal and scientific goals, with talks by artist Hu Yun and art historians Sara Martinetti and Olga Turchina. The conference will then take a look towards the future of the archive, both epistemological (by curator and writer Lars Bang Larsen) and technical (by artist Refik Anadol). At the end of the day, after Konstantin Dudakov-Kashuro’s recount of Soviet avant-garde experiments on self-directing orchestras, the conference concludes with a performance of Nikolai Roslavets’ Chamber Symphony No. 2 (1935), a rediscovered work that has become known only in the twenty-first century.
The Archive: Savior, Inventor, Witness is organized to mark the launch of RAAN (the Russian Art Archive Network) which is an online database under development between the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University (USA) and the Research Center for Eastern European Studies at the University of Bremen (Germany) with Garage Archive Collection.
Established to promote the study of underground Soviet and Russian art from the postwar period onwards, the network is focused on creating an online catalogue that centralizes the data of Russian art archives that are dispersed across the globe.
Conference Curators: Anastasia Mityushina, Valentin Diaconov
Project Manager: Olga Korzinova