Let's perform the archive! can be understood as a working basis, curatorial concept, but also as a guide for the visitors to the exhibition of the same name. For the 200th anniversary of the Badischer Kunstverein (Baden Society of Art), the departments for Media Art | Photography at the University of Design Karlsruhe were invited to grapple with the photographic archives at the Badischer Kunstverein. For a semester, under the direction of Friederike Schäfer and Prof. Susanne Kriemann, the students examined the different roles that the medium of photography can assume in the context of an exhibition.
The exhibition in the “Festraum Club 2.0.0” of the Badischer Kunstverein showed works and projects that explore the reciprocal relationship between photography and exhibition. The starting point was the diverse photo archives of the society - from the general state archive, the Karlsruhe city archive, to the collections of exhibition documentation by in-house photographers, exhibition catalogs, to the folders and boxes in the offices of the art association and in private archives. Based on the examination, contextualization, reflection and further content-related analysis of the material, the students developed various approaches. They negotiated photography in its multiple meaning as an object, medium, technical process as well as documentary and artistic practice.
In their work, they addressed exhibition photography as a feedback process, categorization as a dispositive and the potential of interpreting historical images, amongst others. To do this, they used the practices of documentation and strategies of visualization and worked with archival processes. In the exhibition, the transfer from analog to digital and their inversions were addressed, mechanisms of power of the visible and invisible were questioned, and the actual locations of the archives were made accessible to visitors. The 200-year chronicle of the Badischer Kunstverein also provided access to the almost ancient history of the medium of photography in all its significance - from the ‘purely documentary’ image to an independent work of art. On the one hand, a large part of this story was determined by the fact that photography first had to assert itself as an independent artistic process. On the other hand, from today’s perspective, every exhibition can be thought of as a photographic image through its documentation. After the physical existence of an exhibition has come to an end, photography preserves it for posterity.
The process-oriented exhibition Let's Perform the Archive! refers to the current discourse on the performativity of archives and shows how photography can be understood not only as image documentation, but as a practice, the archive is constantly being generated and interviewed anew.
Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, November 7 – 18, 2018
With works by Lizzy Ellbrück, Vera Gärtner, Iden Sungyoung Kim, Cécile Kobel, Isabelle Konrad, Judith Milz, Hauke Rehfeld, Nis Petersen, Johannes Thimm, Jonas Zilius
Curated by Friederike Schäfer and Prof. Susanne Kriemann