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The basis of this is formed by the idea of the Living Archive: research, digitization, and/or restoration of archival holdings are part of an artistic and curatorial practice of the present understood as participation. The archive is a site of production.
Out of the diversity of the starting materials–complete films, films that are damaged or can no longer be reconstructed, ephemeral films, working materials, marginal notes, and objects–as well as the specific localities of the partners–archives, cinemas, festivals, art spaces, universities, public television stations, databanks, a former crematorium–arises a question: What is a film archive today? What claims does the public make on archives and what present and future can be proposed, even speculatively, from archival constellations and new forms of navigation?

The archives involved become laboratories for critically reflecting on the category of film heritage, but also “heritage” in general, for instance in relation to colonial or migration history or to the history of political and aesthetic movements. Alongside its value for film history and theory, the project will also contribute to developing new perspectives on the politics of film culture. The term film heritage will be positioned in relation to other classification categories such as “transnational cinema” or “world cinema.” From political, aesthetic, or even chance connections, elective affinities will emerge from the present, contributing to devising new concepts of temporality.

The website of “Archive außer sich” informs about news, film programs, exhibitions, public screenings and publication that are realized withing the project.

Participating institutions: International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, silent green Film Feld Forschung gGmbH, Harun Farocki Institut, SAVVY Contemporary, pong film GmbH and the masters program “Film Culture: Archiving, Programming, Presentation” at the Goethe University Frankfurt.

"Archive außer sich" is a project of Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art, in the frame of the cooperation "The Whole Life: An Archive Project" together with Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Pina Bausch Foundation and Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. It is part of HKW’s project "The New Alphabet", supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media due to a ruling of the German Bundestag.

Archival Assembly # 1

[Translate to English:] Flyer-Motif Archival Assembly #1

“Archival Assembly #1” marked the (temporary) end of the five-year project “Archive außer sich.” From September 1 to 8, 2021 film archives and other archival projects met for a public exchange.

Festival program

Partner institutions of “Archive außer sich”

Goethe University Frankfurt

Following the “Filmkulturen außer sich” (“Film cultures besides themselves”), the Goethe University's master program Film Culture takes part in the “Archive außer sich” project with the aim of developing the first Master of Film Archiving and Film Culture in Africa together with the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) and the University of Jos.

Building on the cooperation with the Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art and the NFC, the four-year project “Archival Studies Master Program Jos” was launched in fall 2018 by Goethe University together with the Arsenal and the Deutsches Filminstitut und Filmmuseum (DIF). The master's program is based on the Frankfurt model and will be offered by the University of Jos in cooperation with the NFC, the National Film Institute (NFI) and the National Film, Video and Sound Archive (NFVSA) in Jos. The first Film Culture master students at the University Jos started in fall 2019.

The unfolding of the “Archival Studies Master Program Jos” project comprises elements of intensive exchange between the partners involved. During the two-month “Training the Trainer” fellowships, specialists in film archiving will be trained at the German partner institutions: these fellows will not only take on tasks at the NFVSA but also teach classes in the frame of the master’s program in Jos. In addition, teachers from Goethe University and experts from the Arsenal and the DIF will be “co-teaching” with academic staff of the University Jos to develop and implement the various modules of the program. Mutual internships for students from both universities are part of the planning as well. The project is financed by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as part of the Transnational Education Program (TNB).

Harun Farocki Institut

Since its foundation in 2015 the Harun Farocki Institut (HaFI) seeks to realize Farocki’s proposal in the shape of a platform for researching his visual and discursive practice and supporting new projects that engage with the past, present and the future of image cultures. Part of Harun Farocki’s estate is stored in a separate compartment of the new archive spaces of the Arsenal at silent green Kulturquartier. The estate’s holdings include film and video stock, about to be categorized and catalogued, as well as various other materials collected in relation to projects that Farocki worked on between 1966 and 2014.

The successive preservation and indexing of the estate in the course of “Archive außer sich” goes hand in hand with the production of a comprehensive catalogue raisonné which, apart from Farocki’s film, television and video works, is going to include all of his texts, film scripts and treatments, and radio works. HaFI aims at making accessible these considerable holdings, in order to enable scholarly, artistic, pedagogical and curatorial research and development. Rather than acting in the capacity of a traditional collecting archive (or archival collection), HaFI understands its working with and through Farocki’s estate as a “production archive” for future projects pertaining to the study of the histories of images and the reflection on documentary and essayist forms of image making. As much as the institute’s research projects are immediately bound up with the archival work on Farocki's estate, they also build upon and advance certain questions and methodologies characteristic of Farocki’s praxis.

International Short Film Festival Oberhausen

The project “re-selected – Film History as Print History” will take three years to follow a potentially outmoded intuition. At what has been designated the “end of the analogue age,” it will focus on selected films from the analogue holdings of the Archive of the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, examining film history as the history of individual prints. Instead of propagating the digital “rescue” of a work on film as the ideal, the project is interested precisely in the particularities of a print, which as a rule is obliterated during the digitization process. This raises questions and insights that have to do with a concrete development, with local audiences and historical constellations. Where and when was a film shown at all, who saw it, in what version, in what condition? Prints differ from one another, the concrete histories of their reception take different paths, and do not permit any uncomplicated standardization into the history of a film. Every print is an original–and not just when it turns out that it is the only remaining print of a film, which is increasingly the case in light of the loss of negatives and the withdrawal of analogue media.

pong film

“Navina Sundaram: An Outsider’s Inside View or An Insider’s Outside View”, online biography of works by Merle Kröger and Mareike Bernien/pong film and Navina Sundaram

Navina Sundaram was the sensation at NDR when she arrived in 1964. An Indian woman in German television? As a political editor? Inconceivable! What do 50 years of history look like through the eyes of a woman who had to struggle for visibility in a double sense, in a world dominated by men and by the majority society? One who steadfastly refuses, to this day, to decide on one homeland, one identity? She became the face of programs such as Weltspiegel and Extra Drei. Laying it on the line, writing, getting involved.

Navina Sundaram, a Hanseatic Indian, an Indian from Hamburg with a German passport. Charting her biography at the interface of migration and media histories, including its feminist aspects, means: looking at films together, reading letters, even having heated discussions. Following threads, tracing lifelines that are intertwined with her life. A project chock full of the memories of a witness to the period of West Germany, whose works and thoughts are an inspiration for a society in upheaval, in which we have to redefine terms like origin and belonging.

“Navina Sundaram: An Outsider’s Inside View or An Insider’s Outside View” culminates in a website that is also a non-linear biography, archive, and platform. It brings the journalist’s films and moderations from out of the depths of the NDR archive, recontextualizing them with commentary from today. This amalgam of television clips, texts, images, and conversations provides a unique perspective on Germany as well as one from Germany to the rest of the world.

SAVVY Contemporary

Within the framework of “Archive außer sich”, SAVVY Contemporary focuses primarily on further developing the infrastructure of the existing archives: SAVVY.doc, which accommodates rare cultural and political publications from around the world, especially philosophies from the non-West; the Colonial Neighbours archive, which hosts objects, anecdotes and traces of German colonial histories; the Performance archive, which deliberates on possibilities of archiving the ephemeral; the film-makers exhibition series, which acts as a form of archive; the weekly film program, which engaged with the political potential inscribed in film-making for more than a year; and last, but not least, the archive of events and exhibitions at SAVVY Contemporary over the last nine years, which exists in video, picture and sonic formats.

Project statement: The question of the archive and of archiving is one of the biggest challenges of a small institution like SAVVY Contemporary, which is by default fragile and vulnerable, and which is constantly interrogating what an institution can be. What is at stake here is, on the one hand, the notion and infrastructure of the archive and its processuality and performativity. On the other hand, there is the deep need for an independent and autonomous archive as forensic evidence that will allow the institution to write its own practice into history. Archiving for such an organization becomes a challenge for the banal reason that it lacks the infrastructure needed to document and sustain an archive because of its intrinsic economic vulnerability. This is why we are interested in exploring the vulnerability and the fragility of archives through this project. We aim to create new digital infrastructures that are both sustainable in terms of the costs and labour force needed, as well as complex enough to prevent hacking and other hostile attacks. This is also an effort to engage with the inevitable questions of mortality or “un-eternity”.

silent green Film Feld Forschung

Film Feld Forschung's “Stoffwechsel” [Metabolism] is a series of events, workshops and exhibitions dealing with the materiality of film and the soil as archive. Film is a medium of memory. But what does its memory consist of and how is it formed? How does film relate to its own physical material and to the materiality of what it represents? What physical relationship does the body and landscape have to the image, and thus to viewers and their environment? With Stoffwechsel, Film Feld Forschung considers diverse relations, materials and temporalities in and with the soil. How can the tension between plundering and repairing be newly conceived for the perspectives of the moving image, cinema, and the understanding of archives?

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media