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Editorial

german

 

 

Welcome to the 11th edition of the e-journal
MAP - Media | Archive | Performance

 

MAP #11
Fluid Access: Work histories and
temporary spaces

 

A processual archive allows ever more, different readings of documents and holdings, according to the respective inquiries of the researchers, artists, or activists. This mode of archival work yields provisional findings, which correlate with and/or react to the subjectivities of those conducting it. The archive itself becomes subjective, both in terms of the processes by which it is created and the insights it offers.

Similarly, contemporary performance practices increasingly occur in non-conclusive spatial circumstances. Institutionalized venues are using new spaces for performances; to some extent for technical reasons, such as while the main theatre is renovated, and to some extent with artistic and curatorial intent, as a purposeful approach to specific seasons or projects. Urban nomadic art movements allow participants to explore new neighbourhoods and past currents and take art away from the city centre and out to the periphery.

Mobility and non-conclusiveness are propelling artistic, curatorial, and insight-giving activity in both fields. Biographies are becoming describable without being complete. MAP #11 explores these fluid forms of research and art, curating and performance, of archives and museums. In two thematically focused sections, we present concepts that challenge archive-based historiographical practices and relativize evidence-oriented research without abandoning the empirical.

 

The first section, Work histories and artistic archive research, profiles projects that look at historical research applied to the ‘classic’ biographical format, or take it as a point of departure, while at the same time developing curatorial models that acknowledge the coaction of contemporary inquiry and archival exploration. It opens with a report by Franz Anton Cramer on the French dancer, choreographer, and researcher Nyota Inyoka (1896-1971), whose extensive estate in the French national library is currently the subject of a three-year research project. Considering the complexity of the artist’s oeuvre, especially, but also the constitution of the holdings themselves and the influence of the holder in terms of identity politics prompts fruitful inquiry into the historiographic methodology and the relationship between the author, the archival intention and how the sources are subjectivised. The UK performance artist Jade Montserrat has approached an iconic figure of the 20th century (and contemporary of Nyota Inyoka) – Josephine Baker (1906-1974) – in a similar way. Ulrike Hanstein analyses Montserrat’s multi-year performance project Shadowing Josephine – the re-vision of a biographical myth which, nevertheless, sheds light on the real Baker’s agency, also with respect to the ‘manipulation’ of her biography and public image.

Hanna Hölling also deals with the biography of an icon, albeit by focusing on a work of the postwar modern era: Nam June Paik’s Zen for Film. On the one hand, this work – or precisely the absence of a ‘work’ it created – was fetishized in several exhibitions; on the other, as Hölling has found, Zen for Film successfully defied historicizing appropriations. In her own research and exhibition project on the topic, Revisions: Zen for Film (2015-16), Hölling has examined archive materials, exhibition histories and curatorial practices to trace the history of the work and its appropriation, interpretation, and commodification.

Vera Lauf, curator of the Galerie für zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig (GfzK) describes a year-long experiment in showing an artist’s retrospective. Throughout the year, various pieces from Dresden-based artist Gabriele Stoetzer’s oeuvre were shown in changing constellations in the GfzK’s exhibition spaces; the outcome of a new approach to collecting and archiving.

A prime example of a new approach to – state – archives is profiled in the article Artists & Agents. Here, Inke Arns, Kata Krasznahorkai and Sylvia Sasse present the findings of a research project investigating the impact of intelligence activities on national art scenes during the Cold War. The researchers conducted their inquiries in the secret service archives of various Eastern and Western European countries. Hitherto completely overlooked, these archives are proving to be fascinating sources that highlight the complex ways that artistic work is embedded, observed, and interpreted in society. They have the potential to offer entirely new perspectives if the researcher pursues the right lines of inquiry. The project’s exhibition, moreover, brings into focus the possibilities artists have for determining access to their histories by appropriating these archival holdings.

The first part of MAP #11 concludes with an article by Ulrike Krautheim, which also looks at state – or at any rate public – intervention in the art business. In autumn 2019, Aichi in Japan hosted an exhibition titled After ‘Freedom of Expression?’, dealing with the issue of censorship in the visual arts. Aggressive protests led to the exhibition’s closure which, in turn, motivated the artists to start a Re:Freedom Aichi campaign. Akira Takayama’s J Art Call Center, a work based on direct dialogue, was part of the campaign. Krautheim’s article recalls the discussions surrounding the exhibition and subsequent campaign, the artistic interventions, and Takayama’s motives for his contribution.

At the forefront of all the concepts profiled here is the provisional nature of the findings, the enactment, its perception, and the power of interpretation. In these contexts, the approach of evidence-based analysis, relying on the archive as a place of permanent verification, is challenged and framed by new constellations. In this way, archival findings, products, and insights are detached from their authorial certainty and become once again raw material for – potential, necessary, prospective – investigations. This non-conclusive and temporary approach to archival work allows insight-gaining processes to be constructively relativized and fluid access to be opened.

The transition between the two sections is marked by Lucie Ortmann’s report on archiving practices of the company Rimini Protokoll. The piece is a continuation of our series Archive Analyses started in MAP #8 [http://www.perfomap.de/map8/archiv.-analysen-teil-1] [http://www.perfomap.de/map9/archiv-fragen/archiv-analysen-teil-2].

 

In the second section, Temporary locations and space-oriented art projects, we continue the previous edition’s inquiries into flexible practices of spatial and local presentation. The focus here is placed on artistic and curatorial projects which have temporariness and locational specificity as central aspects.

One example is the temporary museum set up in a suburb of Paris by artist Thomas Hirschhorn with residents of the Albinet district in 2004. The exhibits were holdings of the Centre Pompidou, taken out of their institutionalized location to be presented, viewed, and appropriated in an unfamiliar setting. We document this early example of interventionist work with reference to materials from the host organization Laboratoires d’Aubervillers and Thomas Hirschhorn.

Echohaus was an open experiment initiated by Felix Kubin and Burkhard Friedrich in 2009, bringing together a classical-modern ensemble with an electronic DIY musician and an underground-pop producer. In an interview, the two composer-musicians look back on the project and reflect on its special spatial configuration, the fundamental significance of space in creating sound, of composing by moving through the space, and of technologically generated parallel spaces.

In the article Disappearing Berlin, Verena Elisabet Eitel talks to the curator of a series of events centring on the concept of constant movement through the city of Berlin. Comprising 13 events, the series features projects by international artists and groups in locations marked by transformation, radical change, and loss – of architectural, social, and cultural elements of the urban fabric that are gradually or suddenly disappearing. (Moving) images and sounds make this unique form of urban appropriation visible and audible.

Due to reconstruction and renovation / extension work, numerous urban and municipal German theatres have been forced in recent years to consider alternative locations, new surroundings, and the flexible usage of large halls. In this edition, Barbara Büscher explores productive ways of approaching ‘stopgap’ solutions, by the example of various current projects, and addresses the broader issue of how contemporary art institutions and/or theatres can extend the radius of their activities and movement.

The projects described and discussed in this second part all share an experimental aspect that aims to keep access to the (performing) arts fluid and overcome traditional forms of enclosure.

Due to the difficulties caused by the pandemic in 2020, work on this edition took longer than usual and was by necessity curtailed. We are, then, especially grateful to the contributors, for their patience as well as their generous support during the protracted editorial process.

Your suggestions, comments, and discussion contributions are always welcome.

 

Barbara Büscher, Franz Anton Cramer

Cologne and Berlin, 2021

Translation: Charlotte Kreutzmüller

 

 

Editorial staff:

Barbara Büscher, Franz Anton Cramer, René Damm, Verena Elisabet Eitel, Elisabeth Heymer, Lucie Ortmann

 

February 2021
ISSN 2191-0901

 

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

 

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