Feminist Politics of the Archive, Alternative Futures

SESSION C.1: Artist Talk: Time, Space, Matter
Day 2. Friday, 28th October.
16:00 – 18:00
Venue: CCCB: Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona

Archives are agents. They do not merely exist, they act. There is a mutual relationship between the archive and curators and artists that engage in a feminist politics of the archive. In the wake of the archival turn as well as in the context of the material turn, archives again became of interest to feminist thinking, art practice and curating. Queer/Feminist theorists have emphasized the significance of archives for re-thinking feminist genealogies and temporalities.

Building on the conception that archives shift our perspective on the conditions of the present, this contribution looks at the potential of artistic and curatorial practices of the archive for materialist-feminist thought. Rather than considering the archive as a site of historical truth, evidence, and representation, feminist curators and artists challenge and disrupt dominant narratives of subjectivities and histories. They un/do the archive as a repository of evidence, and mobilize alternative feminist temporalities that envision a future different from the present by examining relations of the materiality of archival documents, of affect, temporality, the body, and the situatedness and performativity of knowledge.

My case study examines Informationsdienst [Information Service], a mobile archive on nearly hundred female artists, conceptualized by curator Ute Meta Bauer and the artists Tine Geissler and Sandra Hasenteufel (1992–1994). On this basis, the following questions arise: How can curatorial procedures and practices unfold the potential of the archive as a site of research but also of critical investigation? And how does a feminist curatorial practice look like that considers the archive as part of a “genealogical politics” (Kate Eichhorn 2013) that aims at regaining agency and that develops modes of micropolitical intervention within the field of art and curating?

Barbara Mahlknecht
Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Barbara Mahlknecht is a researcher, curator, and art educator. She currently holds a position as a lecturer and researcher at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Her work in research, curating, and art education strongly relates to feminist curatorial practices, the archive and the exhibition as performative spaces, socially/politically engaged curatorial practices as well as critical art education. Recently, she has curated Uncanny Material. Foundational Moment of Art Education (Academy of Fine Art Vienna, 2016) A Proposal to Call (exhibition, Kunsthalle Exnergasse Vienna, 2015). Currently, she works on the relations of curating as unvisible labor, feminist politics and archival practices.

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