Curated and organized by Studio Khaled Barakeh, the exhibition is a cooperation between Dawlaty and Syria Cultural Index as part of the Syrian Oral History Archive (SOHA) initiative.
We are all ‘en mal d’archive’: in need of archives […] We burn with a passion never to cease searching for the archive right where it slips away […] We have a compulsive, repetitive and nostalgic desire for the archive, an irrepressible desire to return to the origin, a homesickness, a nostalgia for the return of the most archaic place of absolute beginning. […] It belongs to the concept of the archive that it be public, precisely because it is located. You cannot keep archive inside yourself – this is not archive.
The memory itself, whether collective or personal, doesn’t only rely on storing, but also retrieving memorized data. Whether by the use of real or virtual memory, archives need our actions to remain valid – to reflect the past in the future, keeping stories away from a passiveness of a physical form of an archive. Just as our history, identity and collective memory is built upon a collection of objects, documents, stories and experiences, the archives reflect our times preserving those elements that shape our times for the future generations.
According to art historian Hal Foster, archival art has the ability to ‘make historical information, often lost and displaced, physically present’; it has become a fresh platform of stimulating encouragement towards expanding the existing dialogue between the research and artistic creation. But how can an archive become further integrated within current social debates and discourses of art and culture of today, without losing its initial context? How can an artwork give voices to those buried underneath archival files?
The En Mal d’Archive – Memory Revisited project seeks to connect the undeniable force of organized structures of archives with creations that could aim in almost every direction, from the boldly researched to the completely surreal. Studio Khaled Barakeh in Berlin and Dawlaty Institute in Beirut launched an open call for Syrian artists, offering grants for the production of an archive-based artwork. The four selected artists were granted access to archived stories from Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and have produced original artworks to be presented for the first time at the exhibition En Mal d’Archive – Memory Revisited. The exhibition also presents the works of four international artists engaged with similar topics in their practice. Parallel to the exhibition, a two-day workshop with special guests took place, focusing on the topic of archival art.
Behjat O Abdulla
Heba Y. Amin
Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin
Jayce Salloum & Elia Souleyman