RESEARCHING LIVING ARCHIVES
WORDS BY ALICE PEDROLETTI
As defined by film and video curator Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, in her book “Living Archives – Archive Work as a Contemporary Artistic and Curatorial Practice” published by the Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art:
"Living Archive discursively combines research, preservation and the publication (...) with an artistic and curatorial practice of the present. The projects deal with the archive in a way appropriate to our times (...) generating something new and creating points of access."
By offering new perspectives and narratives, the artistic works presented on this site enable us to rediscover cultural heritage in Tehran, particularly industrial heritage and archives. This specific context allows us to take a new look and a renewed perception of heritage without losing its intrinsic qualities.
Below, the artist in residency, Alice Pedroletti, describes her perception of the term “Living Archives”:
“When I speak about Living Archives, most people look at me strangely, as if I were addressing something incomprehensible. In fact, archives are always alive; they are simply often 'at rest'. The difference between 'alive' and 'living' - to me - lies in how we decide to humanise the archive-instrument.
While the two terminologies suggest the same thing, 'Alive' can be used as a metaphorical term, better suited to a more abstract or even poetical approach. 'Living' rather means typically ‘life’: with its flow, its endurance, its survival. It generally refers to the natural being destined for a predefined cycle. It also reminds me how necessary it is to rethink the Archive itself: like a body that grows and ages, the Archive changes and should change. But unlike a body, it is destined to last.
It survives, carrying the difficult task of recounting the history, whatever it may be, by generating doubts and questions about how one should rethink the contemporary archive-model.
In any case, for the classical Archive, the centrality of the ‘body concept’ remains fundamental until deprived of its own tangibility, thus becoming Database.
The body is also the one of the artist, who works at a distance on a territory without perceiving it directly, but experimenting with the two dimensions: the ‘impossibility of the geography’ and a ‘different but possible geography’. Therefore, the only feasible extension is, again, the Database: a tool that by its nature loses the direct centrality of the human person in favour of the machine, aiming to rethink the classical constraints of the Archive, such as nomenclature or coordinates, and transforming a place's knowledge through other information and open-source models for everyone.
A living archive looks to the future, encompassing the risk of not being applied, understood or conserved. Its fragility leaves room for a possible and continued adjustment into something else, proposing a different history, a new archaeology."
(This text is part of Pedroletti’s reflection on how the notion of ‘Living Archives’ intersects with her project u-form presented as part of HAP and realised in collaboration with artist Andrea Familari)