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Curating the Archive

August 24–26, 2017

Every year in August the Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art offers a Summer School. For three days participants focus on a topic at the crossroads of theory and practice.

Digitizing, restoring, and long-term archiving are currently topics of great concern for the Arsenal. Time is running short, since analog films are already threatened with disintegration, and the costs are so great that as a rule financing first has to be found for every effort. Despite the pressure to act quickly, we should not overlook that collective memory also contributes to how we engage with film history in the long term. Films live on in the memories of those who have seen them. The way that a film gets burned into memory is closely linked with the conditions of its reception. When, how, and under what conditions was a film seen? What other films or film events framed the screening?
One Plus One: The Summer School 2017 assumes that an archival film can only have significance in relation to the present, and cannot be remembered separately from the concrete situation of its presentation. The contributions and workshops are about the practice of curating. How do I create spaces for perceiving archival films, in which film history can become an experience of the present? How can exhibition and screening practice contribute to the formation of memory and thus to the processes of archiving?

With contributions by Bettina Ellerkamp, Mohamed A. Gawad, Milena Gregor, Jörg Heitmann, Birgit Kohler, Markus Ruff, Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, and Nicole Wolf.

The events will take place in German.

The number of participants is limited (30 persons). 

Attendance fee: 135 Euro / 115 Euro (members, students, Berlin-Pass) / 95 Euro (members of arsenal-Freundeskreis)

Registration deadline is August 5, 2017

silent green Kulturquartier
Gerichtstr. 35, 13347 Berlin
& Kino Arsenal
in the Filmhaus at Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Str. 2, 10785 Berlin

Angelika Ramlow | Organization

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Thursday, August 24

9:00, silent green Kulturquartier
Arrival and Welcome

10:00–12:00, silent green Kulturquartier
Presentation of the "Living Archive" and tour of the archive
by Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, with a contribution by Mohamed A. Gawad (Living Archive Alumnus)

10,000 films fill 500 m2 of space and collectively weigh almost 60,000 kg. Yet any archive is only as relevant as its relation to the present, and that consists, now more than ever, in opening up to the world. We call the film archival practice at the Arsenal a “Living Archive”, never losing sight of the artistic and cultural production of knowledge, as well as film reception, thus seeing every user of the archive as a potential archivist.

12:00, silent green Kulturquartier
Lunch in Mars restaurant

13:30–15:30, silent green Kulturquartier
Between Two Films
Stefanie Schulte Strathaus on juxtaposing short films, their ephemerality, and film syntax

Putting together short films can be compared to editing an individual film, to writing a text, or to a composition, in which polyphony must remain recognizable. Every film has its own tone. When it appears on the screen, there is already a danger of being superimposed by the next one. But what happens between the films? Can we grasp or even shape this space of before and after? A curated program turns an old film into a new one, which is exactly what makes it possible to experience it aesthetically.

16:00–17:30, silent green Kulturquartier
Workshop Conceiving programs

Four selected film are viewed in groups. Afterwards the participants put programs together and work out forms of presentation with which they create both experiential spaces for the individual works, but also something new.

17:30–19:00, silent green Kulturquartier
Presentation and discussion of the results in the plenum

19:30, silent green Kulturquartier
Dinner together at the Mars Restaurant (included in the fees)

Friday, August 25

10:00–12:00, silent green Kulturquartier
Moving Films: Radical Lefts and Feminist Third/Militant Cinemas – The Films of the Yugantar Film Collective
by Nicole Wolf

The feminist film collective Yugantar (founded in Hyderabad, India) developed four short films between 1980 and 1984 in collaboration with politically engaged women (tobacco factory workers, domestic workers, and other activists). The polyvocal memories of the films speak of complex processes of negotiation, of film events that create or reimagine public spaces, and of the realms of possibility for political thought and movements in the course of the Autonomous Women’s Movement. What moves these films in the present, who moves them, what do they move, and how could new film/political histories be speculatively conceived from there?

12:00, silent green Kulturquartier
Lunch in Mars restaurant

followed by a move to the Arsenal

14:00–16:00, Kino Arsenal
Hunters and Gatherers – Curating between Timeliness and Archive
by Birgit Kohler

The Arsenal Film Archive emerged is close connection with its programming work. Today the degree to which archival holdings make up the Arsenal program is relatively small–film historical series are dependent on other archives, and as for contemporary cinema, current films are used that have yet to be archived–but relations to the Arsenal collection still exist. Concrete examples will be used to work out how and why a film series emerges from the archive, has an effect on the archive, or is put together separately from the archive. This will make it possible to see that the Arsenal Archive, beyond the film prints, also encompasses the programs in which they figure and the texts that accompany them–and that both are evidence of a specific idea and practice of curating.

16:30–18:30, Kino Arsenal
Producing Is the New Archiving
On digitizing, restoring, and other questions posed by history and the present.
Markus Ruff in conversation with Stefanie Schulte Strathaus

Every restoration leads to a new result. How the restoration was done, photochemical or digital, is not decisive, even though the technical possibilities are different. Every restoration is based on decisions that are defined by the reference point used and the corresponding technical possibilities. What aspects of restoration in particular should be taken into account here? What terms are available to film restoration, and how broadly can they be defined? Using case examples, terms central to the discourse about film restoration will be discussed, including “digitization”, “restoration”, “reference”, “single copy”, “original.” Two current restoration projects will be drawn on, SHAIHU UMAR by Adamu Halilu (Nigeria 1976) and LA ZERDA ET LES CHANTS DE L’OUBLI by Assia Djebar (Algeria 1982), as well as two (repeat) screenings at this year’s Berlinale, MONANGAMBEEE by Sarah Maldoror (Algeria 1969) and ORG by Fernando Birri (Italy 1967–78).

Dinner at the Ki-nova restaurant

20:00, Kino Arsenal
The Magical History Tour
Film program with an introduction by Milena Gregor

Film history anthology programming has a long tradition at the Arsenal. Initial, somewhat canonical "100 Best Films" programs were soon replaced by more excessive and more playful program series encompassing 200 or even 365 films. The understanding of critical film history at the Arsenal and in the collection not only influences the highly variable cycles, but levels the ground to the film historical perpetuum mobile. By means of now 33 themes, which change monthly, the Magical History Tour has been proposing a different perspective on film history since 2009: clear through time, regions, styles, always also with a contemporary film history in view, always subjective, always in close exchange with the collection. Film history as film histories–to be continued.

Saturday, August 26

10:00–12:00, silent green Kulturquartier
Form transformations (I)
On film history in the exhibition space
by Stefanie Schulte Strathaus

When we say that every film can only have meaning from the present, we assume that the historical moment of its original present cannot be reproduced. But how does that relate to space? Can the space of the cinema promise more proximity to the original than the exhibition space? Does transferring film to another space potentially correspond to a more historical distance? When can a film leave the cinema and what should it return there? Or has this discussion lost any meaning anyway in light of the internet?

12:00, silent green Kulturquartier
Lunch in Mars restaurant

13:30–15:00, silent green Kulturquartier
Form Transformations (II)
Utopia of the Cinema: A Crematorium becomes a Site of Film Research.
Tour through silent green and its history by Bettina Ellerkamp and Jörg Heitmann

Since 2013 silent green has been in the fortunate situation of occupying Berlin’s oldest crematorium and thus a unique privately owned building in Berlin with a colorful history. It is nothing new that cultural producers in Berlin make use of unused and empty buildings in the city, filling them with new life. In this case, however, it is not a factory building, as is typical. silent green is located in a former crematorium. We therefore not only take on the responsibility for maintaining an architectural jewel, an island in the middle of the city of Berlin. We also see it as our duty to deal responsibly and respectfully with this particular legacy. silent green sees itself as a protected space for thinking, researching, and experimenting. The focus is on works that go beyond traditional forms. The boundaries between artistic disciplines are meant to be shifted in order to link up to new, hybrid forms. Using the title “Film Feld Forschung” [“Film Field Research”] silent green is dedicated to the forms and margins of documentary narration. The idea is to create a center for moving image art–with exhibition projects, discursive and performative formats. This is meant to create a site of overlapping encounter and participation, in which networks and communicative spaces can be formed between practice and theory, research and application, production and presentation.

15:30–17:30, silent green Kulturquartier
Closing discussion

17:30, silent green Kulturquartier

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur