Changing relations to the past, present and future - archives as operative memory

Based on a conception of the archive as a dynamic entity (Røssaak 2011, Bismarck 2002, Ernst 2002) this subproject investigates contemporary artistic and curatorial responses to the experience of archives as operative memory; a memory that is immediately accessible and being constantly written, read and re-written. Conceived as “operative” the archive serves as an example of a heterochrony or contemporaneity establishing a parallel existence of different times or experiences of time. The project thus aims to develop an understanding of the contemporaneity of the archive, asking: What notion of the present is offered by the representation of archival time within artistic and curatorial practices?

As a technical exteriorization of memory (Stiegler 2010) the archive represents the past making way into our present. It belongs at once to an original historical context and to the moment of retrieval. Conceiving the archive in this way, the project will offer a study of practices engaged with the dynamic operations of memory and storage. Case studies will investigate: 1) instances of “retroactive archiving”, referring to attempts to reconstruct historical narratives using archival material and how reenactments can activate experiences of time (e.g. Aarhus Rapport 1969 book and 2014 exhibition); 2) how these “artistic archives” inform and process subjective and collective memory (eg. The Atlas Group), including visions of possible futures (Jameson 2005); 3) how archiving practices negotiate the active role of media and computational technologies (eg. Constant’s “Active Archives”), the nondiscursive realm of technical infrastructures and computer programs (Ernst 2013). The cases investigate the operative dimensions of archives as exemplars of contemporaneity.

Anne Kølbæk Iversen