Notes on Archives 4
In 2008, an exhibition opened at the Umm el-Fahem Art Gallery, Israel, that focused on the launching of a new on photographic archive: “Memories of a Place: The Photo-Archives graphic History of Wadi ‘Ara, 1903–2008.”
The latter was the case with two photographs of the Arab Ladies’ Union meeting in Jerusalem in 1944, images found originalNotably, the archive used a series of historical images from existing archives, often giving them different captions that retrieve lost histories in the area. This archive exemplifies the possibilities that can result from the critique of institutional image archives: that rethinking archival arrangements can bring to light legible traces of suppressed histories.
The concept of the archive of the Umm el-Fahem Art Gallery concentrates on the notion of place rather than on the identity of a photographer or a person being shown. This became the point of departure for the artwork Dear Jadwa, by Ines Schaber. How could one write a history of a place through images? How could one deal with what might be excluded by it? What would happen if there was a need for images that would not fit into the concept of the newly established archive?ly in the Matson Collection. In Dear Jadwa, both images are shown along with a letter addressed to a woman who is pictured in both. The photographs are accompanied by an interview with Dr. Mustafa Kabha, cocurator of the exhibition and archive “Memories of a Place,” and a text by Schaber reflecting on the making of the archive.
Notes on Archives is a series of publications by artist Ines Schaber about archives and the practices we conduct in relation to them. Produced over the course of more than ten years, the publications feature a series of case studies, research, concrete projects, and reflections on the questions and problems that image archives pose today. The aim of the work is not to find or create another institutional archive per se, but to develop a practice in which the set of problems that archives produce is in fact part of the process one engages in.
The artist understands the archive as a place of negotiation and writing. “There is no political power without control of the archive, if not of memory. Effective democratization can always be measured by this essential criterion: the participation in and the access to the archive, its constitution, and its interpretation,” writes Jacques Derrida.