Index: Perspectives on the Archive

Internship with a focus on the archive: Sarah Heuberger

The body as archive, the archive as body

Our encounter with the archive is based on our experience as subjects, as bodies living in space and time. But also the archive is a body, a body of materials, that not only provokes reactions, but also reacts back, changing through our re-enactment, our looking back on it. Approaching the archive is an actual encounter, a meeting, a living and lived situation. The target remains unknown, transition and temporality are inherent characteristics – just as in a conversation. Or, as choreographer André Lepecki puts it: “In its constitutive precariousness, perceptual blind spots, linguistic indeterminations, muscular tremors, memory lapses, bleedings, rages, and passions, the body as archive re-places and diverts notions of the archive away from a documental deposit or a bureaucratic agency dedicated to the (mis)management of “the past”.”

One thing that is special to Index´ exhibition archive is its physical presence, stretching over four black paper boxes and a black hard disk, where the digitalised material is stored. Apparently, there is no difference to the other office equipment, that surrounds it. It´s material expression connects it to the folders, the shelf, the other boxes and paper staples. Only inside, it contains the memorable documents, traces from the past; flyers, installation images and photos of openings, exhibition texts, as well as manuals on production, budget overviews, reviews and correspondences, letters, faxes, postcards. These bear witness of the archive as an emotional matter, reaching far beyond documentation, embodying even the complexity of feelings, abstracted as dated notes.

As this, the archive tells not only the story of Index and its transformation as an institution, but also about the different individuals that have been connected to Index throughout the years. It speaks about the relations that have been built between the ones who worked, the ones who exhibited and collaborated, and the ones who came to visit. They left traces, not only in form of artworks, exhibitions, or texts, but also as bodies, creating handwritten notes, or interacting with the space, the art and the others on photos from openings, talks or workshops.

This amount of consciously collected and digitalised materials, this set of memories, also raises the question about the absent body, the forgotten, the gaps of the archive. Is what we consider valuable and worth to be collected, what has been considered valuable in the past? Are, what we experience as the gaps of the archive, in fact only the visible alterations of our own parameters? What, if we would try to fill these gaps backwards, from today?

The magazine Index. Contemporary Scandinavian Images is one of the mythical absents of the archive. Published between 1992 and 1998, following the format of Bildtidningen and later on transmuting into Siksi, it has disappeared, leaving behind no more than spoken mementos. It was only in another archive, that the magazine could be found – and shared in form of digital copies, in form of a USB. The encounter with another archive transforms the archive, as part of a network. The digital form enables content to disconnect from its medium – and where the magazine comes from the past and can be digitally spread in the present, two time frames collapse and there´s hope for the archive to be a companion even for the future.

The third approach to Index archive has been curated by Sarah Heuberger. Previous approaches have been made by Elias Kautsky and Matilda Kenttä.