Welcome to the 5th edition of the e-journal
MAP - Media | Archive | Performance


MAP #5   Archive / Processes 2



Archival processes have long since exploded their conventional boundaries. No longer adhering strictly to predetermined methods, they cross institutional bounds. They are not restricted to classic archiving techniques or skills nor are they confined to working with documents as witnesses and verification. But neither do they occur randomly. They generate ever new orders; updating and reconfiguring these leads to processual knowledge acquisition. Thus the connection with the purported predecessor – the object of reference or past event – becomes ambivalent and is perceived as reciprocal and non-hierarchical. Archival processes become autonomous generators of meaning and organizers of significance.


Viewing current archival processes above all as resources for communicating with history – such as the re.act.feminism project has done, and the Living Archive of Berlin’s Arsenal – several aspects can be extrapolated, as the contributors to this edition have done in their articles. They consider the diverse range of archival concepts and explore their functions and strategies. They show that archive workers’ own expectations of their holdings sometimes conflict with the ways the archive is actually used. A central question is: on what levels can collections on performance-based arts highlight each other?


The fifth edition of MAP is divided into four chapters and incorporates three artistic positions on aspects of archiving, recording and re-producing.


In the first section, under the heading “Transparency”, Laurence Rassell (Barcelona), Barbara Clausen (Montréal) and Elisabeth Timm (Münster) consider basic questions of organizing information in a museum context. These articles continue the thread taken up in the second part of MAP #4. Existing institutions are used as structuring units and points of intersection of archival and creative practices for visualizations of history, configurations of artworks and curatorial activities. The strategies hereby employed strive on the one hand towards transparency in decision-making processes and fields of action. On the other hand, as public facilities, they respond to sociological and socio-political demands.


The extension of the archive concept feeds into current artistic and scientific practice. Terms such as “physical archive” and “living archive” contain the suggestion of an embodiment of historical practices beyond the objectifying document or artefact. Far from the institution and site of the archive, choreographic and artistic projects are finding quite concrete points of departure for dealing with objectification which we call “Embodiments”. Julia Wehren (Berne), Isa Wortelkamp (Berlin) and Elisabeth Heymer (Berlin) look at artistic projects that transport temporal and historical dimensions into the here and now of aesthetic encounter.


The constitution of an archive is, of course, essentially determined by the objects situated or analysed within it. But which objects are of interest to archives? How are they constituted and what is their actual heuristic value? To what extent do they rely on the framework of the archive and what can they tell us, both in and beyond the context of their archival arrangement? Eric Padraic Morrill (Oakland / Berlin), Sabine Huschka (Berlin), Eike Wittrock (Berlin) and Lilo Nein (Vienna / The Hague) explore from different perspectives the sometimes paradoxical status of visual documents, as both the media of the archive and of archive formation: “paradoxical media.”


The extension of the archive concept examined here goes hand in hand with an increased tendency toward “Instabilities.” That might seem contradictory, since the archive still marks the reliable anchor around which we reassure ourselves of history. But the contexts in and for which collections are put together evolve in vital interaction, as it were, with many different processes of creating and pursuing interests. Thus the concept of the “living archive” was born, and serves as the title of a long-term project on and with the Arsenal cinema’s archive and its collection of films, as impressive as it is random, on which Stefanie Schulte Strathaus (Berlin) reports. The findings of the project “Media and constitutive systems: Archiving performance-based art” are considered in broader contexts and in the light of various modes of use, interpretations and updates in case studies by Barbara Büscher (Leipzig / Cologne), Franz Anton Cramer (Berlin) and Jasmin İhraç (Leipzig / Berlin).


We warmly thank all contributors to this edition and look forward to your ideas and suggestions for future editions.


Barbara Büscher
Franz Anton Cramer
René Damm
Verena Elisabet Eitel


We thank the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG) for support in the publication of this issue.


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May 2014

ISSN 2191-0901


translation: Charlotte Kreutzmüller