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The art of archiving

In the archive we organize events, or traces of them, in relation to what we think is worth remembering. Art makes us doubt again.


[archiving] Holocaust centers document World War II extermination through photographs and testimonies, official medical records have overview archives of individuals' health history and predisposition to various types of diseases. The archive extends between the tracks of a collective, and an individual, history, and usually serves as historical backup and balance creator for a nation's self-esteem – or a reservoir for the individual's identity. But there are also more problematic archives.

Andy Warhol collected everything he came across in boxes and buried it down to the delight of the archaeologists of the future. The boxes had, one might imagine, a private content that served as a gift to future archaeologists and their archival formations as pieces in a collective history. In Research and presentation of all that remains of much childhood (1944-1950), Christian Boltanski relates as an archaeologist to fragments of his own life.

Warhol and Boltanski point out that art is a field in which the archival form can find ever-new forms, and thus questions the archival functions that prevail in a culture at all times.

Never neutral

The anthology The Archive points out that an archive never. . .

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