Archives in motion -
"approaches, perspectives, interlinking"[1]

"Nothing is more troubled and troubling today
than the concept archived in this word 'archive'"

/Jacques Derrida/ [2]

One of the reasons why the concept of 'archive' is so 'troubled' today, especially in relation to contemporary art, is the problem of selecting, classifying, preserving and storing cross-disciplinary artworks which are/were contextual and ephemeral in their nature. In this sense questions emerge concerning the role of archives as and among other institutions of art. Archives share problematic issues with Museums concerning ever-developing techniques of preservation (such as digitization) and attendant questions of copyright, authenticity and the development of databases as new research sources. Archives, as depositories of cultural heritage, should also define their changing role in contemporary societies, addressing issues of their necessity and influence on social and historical formation.

The seriousness of these issues has met recognition in several international project (including conferences, exhibitions and publications) involving academics, curators, artists and archivists[3]. The projects explore these issues in different ways. Firstly as functional and practical issue like new techniques of archiving; developing shared international databases; the problems of storage; archives as research-source etc. Secondly as theoretical question: how traditional meanings change in relation to contemporary art; what is the role of archives in present societies; what is the relation between memory and archive and what are the archives responsibilities in the future history? Thirdly is the wide range of art practices in relation to archives, documentation and memories. This latter aspect provides the main focus of this present essay in which I concentrate upon reviewing the significant recent project and publication 'Interarchive' of University of Lüneburg. I begin, however, with a brief contextualisation of how the expanded notion of 'archive' - which has informed such discourse - has emerged.

In the traditional sense an Archive as an institution is a depository of original paper-based documents and manuscripts that exists either of its own terms or in conjunction with another institution, such as a Museum. Each Archive, whether public or private, employs respective selection criteria to ascertain the importance (that is relevance or pertinence) of whichever material is to be included or otherwise. The Archive therefore refers both to catalogued collections themselves as well as to the physical place where archivists classify and process these materials. Though there are often relational overlaps, the focus of an Archive differs from that of both Museums and Libraries. Though Museums store and preserve catalogued collections, thus possessing an archival function in part, these mostly concern objects in particular. The museologist's aim, furthermore, is to make these objects available to curators for exhibition. This process enables curators to employ additional selection criteria, which may juxtapose, redefine and transform these objects' signification in the 'neutral' space of the Museum gallery. The Library differs in turn by focusing mostly upon the classification and preservation of published materials, traditionally books in the main. Whether an Archive as an institution operates as part of these larger collections or autonomously, its function differs from a collection. A collection exists apart only becoming an archive when its documents are processed in a given order.

One of the most influential philosophers regarding issues of archives is Jacques Derrida. In his work 'Archive Fever' [4] he describes the archive as a place where thought becomes entwined with materiality but also seeks to applies a deconstructionist analysis of the 'archive' to create new meaning in an extended sense. The "archive" is only a notion, an impression associated with a word and for which...we have no concept.[5]  'Having no concept' in this way might liberate the word from its understanding as tightly connected to its etymological roots in the ancient Greek word 'arkhe' and the Latin word 'archivum' (or 'archium'). In his etymological reading, Derrida discovers that 'arkhe' means the 'site of beginning' containing two principles: in its ontological sense it is the site of 'commencement' ("where things commence"), while in nomological sense it is the site of 'commandment' ("where men and gods command").[6] Therefore it refers to the birth of both the natural and artificial orders of the world. In addition, he continues, the Greek 'arkheion', - which connects 'arkhe' directly to the Latin 'archivum' - was the private house of the 'archons' in ancient Greece. The 'archons' were the superior magistrates of the state, the guards of the most important state documents. Therefore the 'arkheion' was a private space with public function. The Latin word 'archivum' is then connected to the nomological sense of 'arkhe' referring to the institutionalization of the law. [7]

Given this etymological background it does not surprise, that questions concerning invariably also concern politics and power. An 'archive' is the place where power - which always needs a certain 'exteriority', a material appearance - is represented and interpreted by the 'archons', or in modern times, the archivists. But "where does this 'outside' commence", where do things leave traces? Derrida believes that "this question is the question of the archive."[8] Is there an 'archive' without a discernable trace on a surface, an outside materiality? Where and how those things survive which does not included in the construction of history? Do these 'archives' influence our collective knowledge and how does this manifest itself? Derrida offers a psychoanalytic view of researching 'archive' as something, which both attempts to preserve that which is to be remembered and leaves out that which is to be forgotten. He explains that historians, who solely research physical documents of the past, are not able to fully address this broader context of 'archive'. Instead of researching the 'historical truth' depending on archival documents, one should "take into account the unconscious and the more generally virtual archives."[9]  By researching the 'archive of the virtual,' psychoanalysis might create a new theory of the 'archive' and a new profession, the 'historian of the future' who will research things which will to come.

Where this might seem a reversal of common understanding to some extent, such expanded understanding of archive, in the field of contemporary art at least, is barely new. Drawing on an expanded sense and potential of understanding archive has emerged alongside the questioning of the traditional definition of art and artwork from the very beginning of the 20th century. The classical avant-garde indeed took itself as the new 'tradition', instead of following the traditions of the past. At the same time technological developments in photography and film for instance made reproduction possible therefore problematising the role of museums, in particular, as the place for preserving authentic and unique works of art or as the only power governing definitions of art. Marcel Duchamp's first ready-made (1917) was a good example for this change, as his 'ready-made' became an artwork only in museum-context and its subject was the critique of the institutional system of art itself. Nevertheless, later, when the museum accepted and defined the ready-made as artwork, it had clearly demonstrated again its power of canonization of art, but at the same time, gave emergence to the blurred criterion providing definition of 'the artwork' emerged.

Parallel with the assault on the criteria and processes of defining works of art, artists tried to solve the question of documentation and preservation of their art as alternatives separated from the Museums. Here again Duchamp is an early example, who - between 1936 -1941 - had been working on the La-bőite-en-valise, on the portable Museum from the miniature versions of his works. This time Duchamp transformed his artistic practice into the object of aesthetic cult, while he again put the question of authenticity in art by involving reproduction in the discourse on 'high art.' Since the 1960s neo-avantgarde art caused further problems for Museums and Galleries as the main institutions of the art market, which only collect, exhibit and sell certain art objects. New technical challenges alongside developments in technology, the concept or the process of making artworks or the artist's body became centers of interest for many artists, and new collective movements (often colored with strong ideological or political aims) broke the boundaries between art and life and questioned the new roles of art and artists in contemporary societies. Therefore, objects as artworks and the possibility of exhibiting the artwork became secondary problems. The results of the new art, the residues and traces of the works used in advance, during the process or as the documentation of artworks and the often ephemeral or conceptual practices became better be able to be documented than to be exhibited.

Along with the separation of traditional, commercial art of the Museums and Galleries and new avant-garde art, a new form of art institution was also born: the Contemporary Art Archive, as the non-representative, non-governmental way of preserving and processing information about the newest and non-commercial, but fundamentally mainstream contemporary art. In 1997 curator Hans Ulrich Obrist offered his private collection of contemporary art - mostly from the 90's - to the University of Lüneburg on loan. The aim was to make these documents accessible to the public through subjecting them to the archival process of the Kunstraum of the University. As such, more than 1000 boxes of different kind of documents (catalogues, books, press materials, invitation cards, sound and video recordings) were transported from St. Gallen to Lüneburg. At that point the project team at the University decided not to handle the materials as they would normally the content of a future archive and that instead would treat the collection as the subject and means of researching issues and questions of archival process itself. Thenceforth, methodology and logistics of selection, arrangement and accessibility became more important in a sense than the content of the certain archive in the context of the project. Drawing on the involvement of Obrist and Hans Peter Feldman (an artist from Düsseldorf whose works are often connected with the questions of archives) the collection was exhibited in 1999 as an alternative model for handling archival material. Traditional methods of selection and classification (such as by name, country, topic etc.) were forsaken in preference of criteria such as weight, color, smell and size. Further questions and issues continually arose during the research and exhibition, resulting in the project's elevation onto an international level of research and its evolution into book form entitled 'Interarchive' . This publication offers complementary critical and theoretical essays as well as surveys examples of other archival models of contemporary art.[10]

Drawing upon Derrida as one central reference point for exploring the issues of archive, the publication expands both the meaning of traditional "institutions of memory" (museums, libraries, digital and physical archives, record offices, databanks) and the notion of "archivist" (not only a specialist who works in archives but everybody who works with collections and documentation in any form). According to the editorial the title Interarchive refers itself to an intermediate space between archives even and in this particular instance the movement of Obrist's collection between the two geographical places. This geographical metaphor, which also thus alludes to notions of time and space within and beyond the context of archive, finds connections moreover to those theoretical and practical reinterpretations of the notion of archive which put its meaning as institution as well as methodology into a transformative position with blurred boundaries.[11] 'Intermediateness', as becomes clearer, can be understood in further different ways. It might refer to intermediate steps of transformation of understanding from initial signification (our primary contact with an artwork, for example) through further formation and development (what we say, write or visualize of this artwork). It might also refer moreover to intersections between possible archival models themselves, some of which the publication presents. If we take 'intermediateness' as primary principle the question is no longer 'what is archive?' but rather 'what might be archive?' Therefore participants with different theoretical and practical backgrounds (philosophy, architecture, art history, semiotics etc.) do not concur on one objective definition, but provide different possible and subjective viewpoints and questions, which build the framework of a dynamic discourse about archives.

'Interarchive' is structured in three parts: 'approaches', 'perspectives', 'interlinking'. The book thus opens by outlining the approaches of the University of Lüneburg team in handling Obrist's collection of archival material as well as to convert the process of research and the exhibition into book form. This was a difficult task as here the aim of the publication was not to be a catalogue of reproductions and descriptions of the artworks, but instead was to provide documentation of a research project into processes of documentation and its results themselves. Therefore this first part contains photographs of the context of the research, the team and the exhibition interior, but also diagrams and graphs which show the archival collection as quantity of data based upon given criterion (weight, color, smell etc.) and the formal description of the content of the exhibited boxes.[12] Although both the collection of Obrist and the concept of exhibition might have raised interesting questions of criterions of selection and arrangement, the photographs and the descriptions do not explain the aims and reasons of the chosen methodology. On one hand it would be interesting to read about the curatorial conception and the practical problems that occurred through the research from the members of the team or from Feldman, on the other hand it could have been useful for further extended research to experience how the book project would work in virtual form. As a challenging project, the idea is obviously interesting but for those who could not see the exhibition, a hardly transparent process seems to appear.

The following section of 'Interarchive' , entitled 'Perspectives' , broadens discourse from one particular model of archiving to the more general question of archives, and comprises different theoretical texts . Discussing the notion of 'self-archiving' as artistic practice, for instance, Beatrice von Bismarck's discusses Daniel Buren's work in Documenta V (1972, Kassel, Germany).[13] She describes how Buren exhibited a combined 'biographical/bibliographical' list of his artworks entitled "Exposition - Position - Proposition" (in lieu of an 'actual' artwork and in exclusion of a curator) as the part of his piece with a warning that the list "may only be reproduced in its entirety.[14] Prompted by this example of artists' attempts to involve 'auto-documentation', Bismarck then differentiates between two types of artists as 'auto-archivists'. The first type are those artists, including Buren in respect of the particular work cited, who reinterpret their previous works as parts of the historical narrative of their own life and as such the artist's interpretation is sovereign, almost regardless of the viewer's understanding. The second type identified by Bismarck are those artists in showing previous works in new contexts these artists' create links between past, present and future and let others interact and be involved in the interpretation of their artwork to a greater extent. Despite there being different types of 'self-archiving' practices, the common consequence of both is a resistance of resist the roles of curator and museum as mediators between the artist and the audience and a criticism of their manipulative attitudes. In the first case, however, the artists' interpretation remains as similarly subjective and manipulative as those of curators, while in the second case the artists show his/her works in a communicative, open way that enables individual re-interpretation.

As examples of the former type Bismarck mentions Anna Oppermann's work "Ensembles" , and Jason Rhoades's "The Purple Penis and the Venus (Installed in the seven stomachs of Nürnberg) As Part of the Creation Myth" as both auto-biographical installations presenting the material traces of the artists' past aesthetics in a non-linear way, but both enclosed in their own artistic and self-reflecting context leaving no space to interrogate with other contexts or possibility for the present audience to participate.[15] 

These works are criticised by Bismarck as practices against curators and Museums as mediator between artist and audience but which act similarly to the museological practices of the 1970s, where "the subjects delineate themselves ... as coherent and unified, without taking into account the relative and process-oriented nature of technologies of identity."[16] Using Aleida Assmann's classification regarding to memorial places, Bismarck describes these practices using "storage memory", which is a mode of remembrance that divides between past and present. Bismarck contrasts this approach with the latter type of artists who use "functional memory" as mode of remembrance and as a mode of creating "lived-in spaces".[17] Here Bismarck discusses two auto-biographical installations which act as steps for breaking the system of the closed artistic archival narrative: Ilya Kabakov's piece, "The Boat of My Life," (1993) and Renée Green's "Between and Including" (1999).[18] Both works create spaces where the viewer can step in and wander through the artists' past and present. But while Kabakov still keeps a loose chronological order with a clear beginning and end, Green allows different elements to be re-defined by themselves through non-linear and non-chronological structure and to be understood through the movement of the viewers in the space:
  "This is a self-reflexive archival praxis that takes the record-making and generative aspects of archiving as its subject, and makes the past once again useful and open to the present."[19]

Bismarck's examples connect to yet other models of artists investigating issues of documentation/archiving in the 'Interarchive' publication. Gilbert and George, for instance and as an example of artists extremely conscious of archiving as a context for practice, solve the problem by constantly working on their private archive, which contains all the preparations, sources, residues, documents and traces of their works.[20] As an opposite example English artist, John Latham, presents the most non-archival artistic practice, preferring to recycle and recontextualize documents of past instead of classifying and arranging them. As he explains in his interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist, in 1967 with his friend Barry Flanagan and his students he Latham 'ate' Greenberg's book on 'Art and Culture' as a collective action and then returned the masticated book to the library of St. Martin's School of Art where Latham was a lecturer. Although the book could not be used any more as historical narrative, but was reborn as a work of contemporary art.[21] As a result Latham was fired from the School, but his work is now in the Museum of Modern Art. Barbara Steveni worked with Latham for years in the Artists' Placement Group (APG) whose interventions were based on the idea that "non-art contexts of industry and government were a more effective and 'creative' place than the Studio or a Gallery, and the subsequent creation of a structure with the aim of repositioning the artist in the decision-making processes of society."[22] Steveni has just recently showed another alternative way of archiving as the part of another archive project organized by the John Hansard Gallery in Southampton University. In her performance Steveni presented herself as a 'living archive'.[23] While both of them use the archival material as the part of their ongoing art practice, it is interesting that at the end the activities of their artist group (APG) will be archived in a traditional way after their collection has been bought and is being processed in the Tate Modern Archives.

Elsewhere in 'Interarchive' , Andrea Fraser presents another way of considering archives in artistic practice. Fraser contributed to the publication via e-mail and demonstrates how her view works deliberately against the traditional methods of arranging materials. She thinks Archives' meanings rely upon both fetishization and rationalization of documents, which are both bureaucratic processes. Consequently, in her projects she builds up or rearranges Archives in a form where the possession of information and knowledge depends upon dissolving order to chaos and selection based on chance. In her work "Information room" (1998 - Kunsthalle, Bern) Fraser arranged archival material of the Kunsthalle in unlabeled boxes and books with their spines to the wall as an installation in the Gallery space. Therefore the visitors of the gallery could use the 'archive' by opening the boxes and looking through the materials but had no advance information about what they would see in the boxes. Information has been gathered by chance instead of selection.[24] All these examples of artists' archives and alternative ways of using archival material resist the contemporary art archives as institutions, criticizing manipulative selection criteria of archivists' or 'outsiders' subjectivity. However, it remains doubtful if these alternative artist-driven archival processes can solve the problem of documentation of contemporary art instead of institutions.

On what basis can we obtain information if we completely exclude selection? For Fraser this basis is chance, but materials and documents which are being collected and arranged by accident or by a very unusual way can easily lead to the loss of all the information or the disappearance of certain works, or to the creation of those private archives which contents are only known by their creators. Who and on what basis will be able to tell what will be the past in the future? What is art if the fact that the existence and quality of artworks depends on their appearance in museums is no longer a criteria of definition? What can or should be preserved? What, how to document an artwork if it no longer exists as an object? Ultimately, even, are these questions are relevant any more? Wolfgang Ernst also problematizes selection and subjectivity in the context of virtual archives, in particular, and raises further questions concerning memory and its preservation. Cultural memory will always be connected to techniques of preservation because only preserved memories can be accessed as information.[25] Is Internet a solution for archival problems or is it only a new platform for raising new questions in relation to art and documentation?   Does the process of digitization create an archive? Is the Internet an Archive or does it presents the already existing differences between Archives and collections in a virtual form? Is it possible to differentiate archives and collections in virtual space in the same way as we did in a real space considering the fact that in virtual space the using of the word 'archive' as a universal metaphor empties the traditional meaning of archive?

Though in the future different preservation techniques will exist side by side, according to Ernst, the notion of archive still needs some kind of definition so as not to lose its' content. While the virtual space operates similarly to the real archives in its technique, the virtual world is more an entropic site: instead of traditional archival order it ensures the greatest disorder for getting and giving information. The other difference is whilst a traditional archive is fundamentally connected to the human memory; cyber-space has no memory at all. Internet is a perfect example for a collection based on chance. Nevertheless, is there any possibility in the virtual space for creating a similar knowledge based virtual form of a real archive but which could also solve the problem of its subjective selectivity? How virtual archives could change the traditional concept of archives as foundations for creating one narrative history to become the platform of 'discursive aesthetics'? According to Ernst there is only one solution in the virtual space, which while gives some kind of help in choosing directions also gives freedom of decision in choosing information and building up different but equally relevant individual histories: hypertext and hypermedia.

While one part of the publication deals with the issues of the archive as real and virtual space and as well as the repercussions for its institutional basis, other passages raise more specifically philosophical or sociological questions in relation to the topic. Bart De Baere researched means by which to change the social function of these depositories of the past ('archives mortes') in the world of communication, commercialism and interactivity, to ensure archives retain usefulness in our present day world?[26] For Baere, the solution lies in changing the archive's object-based function to focus more on community forming activities, depending more on contemporary issues and questions of present society then the documents of the past. Using the notion of 'cultural competence,' "the individuals' capacity for information and the degree to which one is capable, by reason of environment, education and experience, to deal with complex cultural stimuli," de Baere focuses on the role of archives as tools for forming communities.[27] With this function, archives could help alienated individuals of globalized society to take part again in public discourses through cultural questions, which is a territory that exists between globalized economy and synthesized politics. Although De Baere's theory rejuvenates archives in social context, it could only operate if both Archives and questions of culture could strengthen their status in social and political consciousness.

Although the publication does not intend to ask all the possible questions about contemporary art and archives, some very important question is important to mention here, which might sound very simple but cause everyday problems for those archivists who work in archives. These include considerations of the fate of pre-existing archives that keep those thousands of documents, providing the basis of the virtual archives and the future survival of these documents. Should we store them 'underground', in safe places for those decades it takes to process them to be available in virtual form?[28] Or shall we sell them to bigger institutions that at least are able to exhibit them but in a selected way and where they are also closed for public during the years of archival process (such as in the case of APG)?29 How can we avoid losing these archives? Some transform themselves into another form, like to start again as a publishing house or a virtual archive (such as the case of Franklin Furnace Archive)30. What is the best solution and for whom? Is it necessary to keep these archives containing original and unique documents in the same form or do we have to think of new solutions in relation to improving research and understanding of contemporary art in particular? How we can document increasingly complex and often ephemeral art practices 'objectively' enough to provide a reliable sense of these practices and works in the future? Is it useful to preserve these works in the form of photos or video recordings or should we talk about their contents in relation to broader socio-political context to understand them?

With these questions in mind we arrived at the third part of the publication, entitled 'Interlinking', which introduces the structure of sixty-two different models of existing 'archives' through questioning of 'archivists' by the project team. Real or virtual, public or private, open or closed, object or media-based, different collections or foundations and results of research or practical projects are all taken under the umbrella term of archive, thus presenting various models of practice. Among the participants, questioned as 'archivists', are curators, artists, professional collectors and hobbyist collectors. From their answers we know that there are some who did not even want to create an Archive, but only kept the documents about their own work (Robert Fleck), others as a publisher created their own databases, which are called archives only because the process of digitization (S. O. S. International Archive).

Some Archives provide documentation of a temporary project organized in certain times (documenta Archiv), while some are institutions that organizes events and archives the documents of their own activities (<rotor>). Some artists (Archiv Lisl Ponger) build up their private Archive based upon their own research and interest, or arrange documents archive to create a publication about his/her works (Erik Steinbrecher). In this sense, the Archive is a working tool for private usage. There are some Archives which exist in real form but operate more like a documentation or information center (Electronic Flux Corporation), or as a platform of communication created specially for digital form ( A unique form of archive is the Mediatheque Terre-de-ciel, which does not collect or select, but compiles documents based upon their date of submission by members of the public who wish to share whatever particular importance or interest they perceive in them. This archive also lends archival documents in contrast to traditional archival rules. There are also archives, like The Netherlands Media Art Institute and the argos-arts, which specialize their archival activity to only one media (video and audiovisual documents). At the end, there are some private collections of different people who collect different objects as a hobby (Bengt Forslund's Archive of devils or the Batman-collection of Lars Berglund). These and other Archives are also represented diagrammatically as a network in 'Interarchive', but their relationship to each other are not discussed in the book, instead their methods and the contents of their collections are described individually, without detailed research.31 These descriptions are very important to have some kind of knowledge about the existing archives, the reader get basic information that can be developed individually by using the addresses of them given at the end of the publication. 32

Then there are those Eastern European archives, which are still not recognized as cultural heritage, which risk becoming part of closed private collections after the owner dies, or simply disappear because of new technical developments. These archives are also weakly represented in this publication. In Eastern Europe where neo-avantgarde was forced underground, Archives had an additional function: these were the only places which preserved information and documentation about new and progressive art forms which were different from the ruling social realist art. One of the still existing Eastern European avant-garde Archives is Artpool (Budapest, Hungary), which, apart from the Romanian subReal, is the only participant in 'Interarchive' from Eastern Europe. Artpool Archives started its activities as an artist initiative in 1979. Surviving the years of state socialism in 1992 Artpool became an artist-run Art Research Center including the huge Archive of the underground Hungarian avant-garde art of the 70s and 80s and of of progressive international art from the early 70s until the present. This Archive is also an ongoing art project where documents are generated by targeted collecting as well as responses to calls for projects and exhibitions. Having been processed in the Archive all such material provides the foundation of future projects along and connected with other documents from the past to raise new questions in art. As an Art Research Center its aim is not only archiving, but also exhibiting, disseminating and researching contemporary art practices. Apart from the research of art Artpool also started an ongoing research on the institutions of art to explore these issues to the wider audience. Although Artpool is well respected internationally, the research about the future of contemporary art and its archives is elementary as in Hungarian context there is no discourse on that topic. To achieve this wider interest international projects on the question of archiving and archives are particularly important.

The more than 600-page publication is in the end result of a long research project, but at the same time as a handbook acting as a starting point of other archival projects in the future. It could also be said that the project supports the view that 'everything is Archive, which results in questioning the existence of the notion in the future. As Bertolt Brecht wrote of the 'work of art', so we could also say of Archive:

"If the concept of 'work of art' can no longer be applied to the thing that emerges once the work is transformed into a commodity, we have to eliminate this concept with cautious care but without fear, lest we liquidate the function of the very thing as well. For it has to go through this phase without mental reservation, and not as noncommittal deviation from the straight path; rather, what happens here with the work of art will change it fundamentally and erase its past to such an extent that should the old concept be taken up again - and it will, why not? - it will no longer stir any memory of the thing it once designated."33

Judit Bodor
Budapest - Dartington
October 2004 - April 2005

Interarchive. Archivarische Praktiken und Handlungsräume im zeitgenössischen Kunstfeld / Archival Practices and Sites in the Contemporary Art Field.

Edited by: Beatrice von Bismarck, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Diethelm Stoller, Ulf Wuggenig, artistic concept: Hans-Peter Feldmann, curator: Hans Ulrich Obrist.
Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Lüneburg-Köln, 2002, 640 pages, 545 images (402 in color), german-english, 19,7 x 26,5 cm, ISBN 3-88375-540-0 <>

Kunstraum der Universität Lüneburg: Publications
e-flux announcement

1 The text is in main a review of the publication of Interarchive. Archivarische Praktiken und Handlungsräume im zeitgenössischen Kunstfeld / Archival Practices and Sites in the Contemporary Art Field, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Lüneburg - Köln. Reviewing the 'Interarchive' project/publication is as one result of an ongoing research on contemporary art archives developed at Artpool Art Research Center, Budapest. An earlier Hungarian language version of this text has appeared in Balkon 2004/7 (Július). The occasion of this English translation has allowed for a revised version of the text overall. <>

2 Derrida, Jacques: Archive Fever: A Freudian impression, Univerisity of Chicago Press, 1996. <>

3 For example the AICA (International Association of Art Critics) conference entitled "The Memory of Contemporary Art: What and How?" in 1996, and another conference co-organized by AICA and Archives de la Critique d'Art (Rennes) in 2001 entitled "Contemporary Artists and Archives: on the meaning of time and memory in the digital age." This conference was the part of a bigger archival project initiated by the Austrian organization Basis Wien in 1999. "VEKTOR - European Contemporary Art Archives" was a three-year long international project supported by the European Commission originally to develop an international database for contemporary art with standard rules among the participating institutions. Apart from this they organized conferences, symposia (e.g. "The Archive in Art Practice", John Hansard Gallery, University of Southampton, June 2002) and exhibition around the question of archives and inviting artists to develop projects (Publication entitled "Potential: ongoing archive," edited by Anna Harding, 2002, which accompanied the exhibition in The John Hansard Gallery, University of Southampton, 25 June - 24 August 2002 and TENT. Rotterdam 6 September - 6 October 2002). More about the project VEKTOR is: http:// 2002. <>

4 Derrida, Jacques, Ibid. The book is the published version of Derrida's lecture given on 5 June 1994 in London as the part of the conference "Memory: The Question of Archives."   The original title of the lecture was "The concept of the Archive: A Freudian Impression." <>

5 Derrida, Jacques, Ibid, p. 29. <>

6 Ibid, p. 1. <>

7 Ibid, p.2. <>

8 Ibid, p. 8. <>

9 Ibid, p.64. <>

10 Interarchive. Archivarische Praktiken und Handlungsräume im zeitgenössischen Kunstfeld / Archival Practices and Sites in the Contemporary Art Field, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Lüneburg - Köln 2002. <>

11 Interarchive, Ibid, pp. 8-11. <>

12 The first part of the publication also contains the interviews of Hans Ulrich Obrist with artists of different approaches to the question of archives (Gilbert and George, John Latham and Barbara Steveni), as well as the e-mail interviews with Andrea Fraser and Maria Eichhorn. Interarchive, Ibid, pp. 48-59., 68-75., 85-88., 88-90. <>

13 Von Bismarck, Beatrice: Arena Archiv. Prozesse und Räume künstlerischer Selbstarchivierung / Arena Archiv. Artistic self-archiving: processes and spaces. Interarchive, Ibib, pp. 113 - 120. and 457 - 458. <>

14 Ibid, p. 113. (in English p. 456) <>

15 Ibid, pp. 115-116 (pp. 457 - 458). <>

16 Ibid, p. 117. (p.458). <>

17 Ibid, p. 459. (p.118). <>

18 Ibid <>

19 Ibid <>

20 About their archive see Hans Ulrich Obrist's interview with Gilbert and George, Interarchive, Ibid, pp.49-59. (in German pp. 426 - 432). <>

21 Obrist, Hans Ulrich: Interview with John Latham and Barbara Steveni, Interarchive, Ibid, p. 71. (in German p. 434.) <>

22 Drabble, Barnaby: There's no history like the present: Thoughts on the archive of Barbara Steveni's APG' in. Harding, Anna (ed.): Potential: ongoing archive (kat.), Artimo, 2002, p. 85. APG had other members like Jeffrey Shaw, Barry Flanagan and later Stuart Brisley, David Hall and Ian Macdonald Munro. Ibid. <>

23 About the exhibition in John Hansard Gallery (2002.06.25-08.24) see Harding, Anna (ed.): Potential: ongoing archive (kat.), Artimo, 2002. <>

24 Description of the project: Questions for Andrea Fraser, Interarchiv, Ibid, p. 86. (in German pp. 437 - 438.). <>

25 Ernst, Wolfgang: Archive im Übergang / Archive in Transition, Interarchiv, Ibid, pp. 137-147 (in English pp. 475 - 484.) <>

26 De Baere, Bart: Potentiality and Public Space. Archives as a metaphor and example for a political culture / Potentialiät und öffentlicher Raum. Archive als Metapher und Modell einen Politischen Kultur, in: Interarchive, Ibid, pp. 105-113 (in German pp. 447 - 455.) <>

27 The phrase was first used by Hans Blokland in his Wegen naar vrijheid, autonomie, emancipatie en cultuur in de westerse wereld, Amsterdam 1995, pp. 331-333. Cited in de Baere, Ibid, p.106., note 5, p.112. <>

28 See the example of the American Bettman Archives. Michal Kobialka describes how the archive, which contains millions of photographic images, had been bought and was transported to an underground, protected place by the company of Bill Gates, CORBIS in 1995. Although the documents will be preserved, it also means that nobody can see them. CORBIS promised that all the images would be digitized. This still means that the researchers have to wait at least 25 years to have access to all the materials. In: Kobialka, Michal: Historical archives, events and facts. History writing as fragmentary performance, in: Performance Research 7 (4), pp. 3-11 <>

29 More about APG in: Drabble, Barnaby, Ibid. The Jean Brown Archives was mentioned by Hungarian scholar Geza Perneczky as one of the example for those avantgarde archives which became the part of a bigger museum (Getty Museum, Los Angeles). It is interesting to note that although the Hungarian title use the work gyűjtemény (collection), in the English translation Perneczky used the title The Art Pool Archives. The Story of a Hungarian Art Collection, in: The New Hungarian Quarterly, 1989, pp.192-196. Therefore he did not make difference between collection and archive. <>

30 About Zona see Nannucci, Maurizio: Zona Archives, in: Interarchive, Ibid, pp. 388-390. About Franklin Furnace you can read more in Wilson, Martha - Michael Katchen: Franklin Furnace Archive, Interarchive, Ibid. pp. 296-301 <>

31 The diagram is in Interarchive, Ibid, pp. 227-228. It shows those archives the organisers originally asked for participation as well as those, which was advised by the participant archives, but not necessary became the part of the publication <>

32 The publication also includes a table containing practical information from the participant archivists answering the advanced questions of the editors about the structure and content of their Archives. Interarchive, Ibid. pp. 230 - 231. In the end of the publication the readers can also find the contact addresses and short biographies of the participants. Ibid, pp. 633-637. <>

33 Benjamin, Walter: The Work of Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction, 1936, in.: Illuminations, Trans. Harry Zohn. Edited and with Introduction by Hannah Arendt. New York: Schocken Books, 1968. <>