The Living Archive: On Collecting, Classifying and Remembering in Contemporary Art

The terms architecture and archive both come from the Greek word arche, meaning the ‘beginning’, ‘origin’ or ‘source of action’ or the foundations which provide the conditions of the possibility of a thing, without having properties of its own. Arche, then, implies potential, be it the foundations of a building, or a collection of objects, and it is only through use that the potential can be realised. Collections and archives are never innocent. They are subjective, loaded with the combined meaning of small decisions made along the way in their making, shaped by their makers’ worldviews, revealing dominant political narratives of the time of their creation. Objects of all kinds - documents, images, sounds, stories, found materials have taken center-stage in the arena of contemporary art over the past two decades. This course combines theory and practice and will be taught through lectures, workshops, guest artist talks, research sessions, reading groups, as well as the development of a physical and a digital archive scheduled to show during the final exhibition of the IZK Institute of Contemporary Art.