A Night at the Archive

One way to describe a film archive like the Arsenal's archive would be as a record of the collective memory of a certain group of people who created it, their curatorial descisions, their view of the history of cinema and its trends, as well as their own personal taste for film and their socio/politico/artistic tendencies. And in that sense the archive content has some kind of logic to it, even though, it may not be very easy to uncover its organization.
Assuming this, then there is also a certain logic to how films collected into the archive are programmed and re/introduced to the public in different contexts. Their retrieval has probably a thematic nature that has to do with topics, tendencies, history, chronology and, of course, taste.

Sometimes, in our daily life, we experience an unexpected float of a memory item, such that we cannot attribute to a thematic "search". I propose an evening of unthematic hazardous retrieval in the Arsenal archive.
For the "Night at the Archive" event I propose a programmation that will ignore the logic inherent in the archive - I propose a programmation based on the arbitrary, that will be generated via spontaneous chance operations. Neither the audience nor the curators or the archivists will know in advance what films will be selected to be screened. And for this reason the event will have to take place close to where the films take their nap until showtime - the storage warehouse in Spandau.
We will gather there, audience, cinephiles, curators and archivists, around this treasure chest, close our eyes and pick a jewel. Then we will open our eyes wide and watch this jewel until our urge to dive into the chest again will send us to another chance-pick from the treasure. Hopefully Groucho's spirit will turn it to an even more anarchic evening than we can fore-un-plan.

(1) – (7) A Night at the Archive, Sep 2011 ©Gerd Mittelberg

The event "A Night at the Archive" took place on September 10th, 2011 at our external film depot in Spandau. The six films picked randomly were screened on a mobile 35mm projector, one reel per film.

LA HORA DE LOS HORNOS, Fernando Ezequiel (Pino) Solanas, Argentina 1968, 35mm, OV/GeS, 255min
GHETTO, Thomas Imbach, Switzerland 1997, 35mm, OV, 121 min
ARSENAL, Alexander Dowshenko, UdSSR 1928, 35mm, OV, 92 min
PERWY UTSCHITEL, Andrej Michalkow-Kontschalowski, Kirgisistan 1965, 35mm, OV, 99 min
12 ANGRY MEN, Sidney Lumet, USA 1957, 35mm, GV, 97 min
POLICE, Charlie Chaplin, USA 1916, 35mm, silent, 19 min

Biography of Avi Mograbi