Shaking the Archive

Towards Future Methodologies

“…however we define archives, they have no meaning outside the subjective experience of those individuals who, at a given moment, come to use them…” / “On the one hand, there is no state without archives - without its archives. On the other hand, the very existence of the archive constitutes a constant threat to the state.”

Achille Mbembe, The Power of the Archive and its Limits

'Marginal/Lateral’ or non-institutional, self-initiated, informal and small private archives are cropping up across the globe to address gaps and offer a voice to marginalized bodies and realities. These are often not archives in the strict sense of the word, but come in the form of indexes or creative projects that reframe materials and data. Both in parallel and in conjunction, an unprecedented number of research based creative practices, which use appropriation and re-framing (by drawing from the archive or building it) as the basis for their work, and to make sense of a rapidly changing mediatic reality, have also emerged. The added context of the internet and the birth of new media have created the urgency to create a new language and method of archiving, as well for an ethical debate, across different disciplines, around what it really means to share (and often commodify) archival materials. The above fields of enquiry: subaltern archives, research based artistic practices and the emergence of new media are all shaking the archive—both in terms of content and container—in different ways. In order to re-shape our ways of keeping a dynamic record, of sorting and storing data, of preserving all voices, we cannot ignore small scale archival initiatives and attempts.

The theme of HfG’s 30 year anniversary is “the future of” and a future cannot be consciously built without facing a new set of questions around archiving present and past. In order to upend our learned assumptions about reality, about Western forms of knowledge, classification and value; in order to keep a record of the recent past and its material and immaterial transformations; in order to address the multiple, yet interconnected urgencies of the present, we need both the archive and the question, and neither of these ingredients can ever be static. Rather than adopting a notion of progress in relation to the future in general and the future of archiving more specifically, we would like to explore the idea of the future within the framework of potential.

Guests include artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Cyberfeminism Index Founder, Mindy Seu, director of Villa Romana in Florence, Angelika Stepken, researcher, Özge Çelikaslan and more. A detailed schedule will be released in the coming weeks.


For those who cannot join in person, streaming is available. Please register via e-mail:

Open Resource Center (ORC)

The Open Resource Center (ORC) at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design is a development project for building a sustainable digital infrastructure and anchoring a culture of autonomous documenting and archiving at the HfG. The ORC is funded by the Foundation Innovation in University Teaching.

At the center of the ORC is the media archive platform madek, developed at the Zurich University of the Arts, which can be used as a (long-term) archive and as a publication, presentation, research and documentation platform. madek is an open source software with a bottom-up structure that enables all university members to upload and manage data autonomously via their user accounts. Currently, the ORC is revising the interface design and usability of madek.

The ORC brings together the areas of teaching, research, documentation, publishing and archiving at the HfG, responding to the increasing fusion of production, documentation and distribution processes.