Artpool40Active Archives and Art Networks

International Conference of the Artpool Art Research Center

February 20–21, 2020 Museum of Fine Arts, Schickedanz Hall, Budapest

Agustina Andreoletti | Zdenka Badovinac | David Crowley | Katalin Cseh-Varga | Mela Dávila Freire | Lina Džuverović | Meghan Forbes | Daniel Grúň | Sarah Haylett | John Held | Roddy HunterJudit Bodor | Jasna JakšićTihana Puc | Klara Kemp-Welch | Kaja Kraner | Emese Kürti | Karolina Majewska-Güde | Lívia Páldi | Henar Rivière | Sven Spieker | Kristine Stiles | Katalin Timár | Tomasz Załuski | Elisabeth Zimmermann

Karolina Majewska-Güde [Biography]
Life and After-life of the Archive: Ewa Partum’s and Valie Export’s Archives


My presentation focuses on a comparative study of Ewa Partum and VALIE EXPORT Archives. These seemingly parallel artistic practices, feminist, conceptual, and performative at the same time, existed in various political and institutional contexts until 1989. My presentation aims to enclose the meanings of these differences and concentrates on ways in which both artists used the infrastructure of the archive in their artistic practices.

The Ewa Partum Archive, unlike many meticulously preserved archives of East European neo-avant-garde artists concerned with the problem of self-historicization, is heterogeneous and fragmentary. The VALIE EXPORT Archive, on the other hand, is characterized by a transparent structure that has been maintained over the years. Both archives, however, include a moving collection of documents and their reconfigurations; works made and re-made for exhibitions, revealing not only how both artists worked on individual projects, but also their ways of conceptualizing the relationship between documentation and performative action.

The Ewa Partum Archive incorporates the Galeria Adres Archive, run by Partum between 1972 and 1977, and the material related to Ewa Partum’s artistic practice. However, the boundaries between both sets of materials are fluid. The material gathered in the Galeria Adres Archive not only became a source for Ewa Partum’s practice. Galeria Adres became yet another artistic medium that enabled Partum to develop conceptual art understood as communicating the idea of art. On the other hand, the gallery functioned as an apparatus of self-historicization in the chosen transnational context, produced through its publishing, production and exhibiting activities.

The VALIE EXPORT Archive, recently institutionalized in the form of the VALIE EXPORT Research Center, contains materials related to VALIE EXPORT’s practice as an artist and academic teacher, as well as a collection of books with notes and comments that constitute the intellectual/theoretical basis of her practice.

In my presentation, I will focus on the histories of Partum’s and EXPORT’s Archives, and I will discuss their specificity in the local (Polish and Austrian) contexts. The archive will be problematized as a liminal space on the threshold between the private and public spheres. I will characterize the modes of their existence at different stages of the artistic careers of Partum and EXPORT, also considering the strategies of their presentation. Finally, I will problematize how Partum and EXPORT appropriated the infrastructure of the Archive within their artistic practices.