Speak, Memory. On Archives and Other Strategies of (re)activation of cultural memory (Cairo, 28 – 30 Oct)

Información sobre el simposio ‘Speak, Memory. On Archives and Other Strategies of (re)activation of cultural memory’ (28-30 Octubre), organizado por Laura Carderera en Cairo, Egipto. En el simposio participa Miguel A. López presentando algunos de los proyectos e iniciativas de la RCSur como el proyecto ‘Cartografías’, la exposición ‘Inventario 1965-1975. Archivo Graciela Carnevale’, y el archivo Clemente Padín.



Borrowing from the title of Vladimir Nabokov’s classic autobiography, Speak, memory was a three-day event structured around presentations, panel discussions, screenings, and artist talks exploring the rich array of methodologies that can be adopted to unearth, revisit or reactivate past artistic practices.

Recently, the Middle East has seen the emergence of a series of archival and historiographic endeavors focused on a local and regional history of modern and contemporary art. In response to the scarce and scattered art historical documentation of the region’s most recent past, a growing number of researchers, curators and artists have begun collecting documents and recording the oral histories of artistic practices and exhibitions that have seemingly been forgotten, misinterpreted or dismissed.

As these research projects gain momentum, private collectors and newly created museums are also slowly acquiring artists’ archives, magazines and other remnants of the region’s 20th century cultural history. These developments are not unique to the Middle East. A similar phenomenon has been taking place in Latin America, where private collectors, foreign museums and universities have been buying and exporting privately held archives related to artistic production of the 60’s and 70’s.

The current situation calls for a critical discussion between institutions, collectors, artists, curators, and researchers interested in reactivating recent cultural memory in a way that enables the creation of a multiplicity of narratives and ready access to these histories. Speak, memory sought to instigate an informed debate on the challenges and strategies for the preservation of modern and contemporary art histories, focusing on those that have been scarcely documented or are underrepresented in dominant art historical narratives. In addition, the symposium presented archival initiatives that stand out for their successful organizational model, accessibility and discursive potential, as well as online platforms that are already providing possibilities for collaboration.

Rather than being a one-time event, the symposium aimed to create a network of archival initiatives and broader historiographic endeavors that can facilitate a series of ongoing conversations and collaborations.

Day 1: On cultural memory

Time Venue Topic & Speaker

10 – 11 am Townhouse Factory Space Registration.

11 – 11: 20 am Rawabet Theater Opening remarks by William Wells & Laura Carderera. Overview of symposium

Program and objectives.

11:20 – 12:10 pm Rawabet Theater Keynote presentation by Susan Meiselas, From the Field to the Archive.

12:10 – 1:20 pm Rawabet Theater Presentation of different regional historio-graphic endeavors in the Middle East and beyond:

– Kristine Khouri: ‘The History of Arab Modernities in the Visual Arts Study Group’: The Beginning.

– Miguel López: South-South Intersections: Southern Conceptualisms Network and the Political Possibilities of Local Histories.

1:20 – 3 pm Townhouse Factory Space Lunch.

3 – 4:15 pm Rawabet Theater Negar Azimi and Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh, Arab Image Foundation.

4:15- 4:45 pm Rawabet Theater Coffee Break.

4:45–5:30 pm Rawabet Theater Artist Talk: Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin.

5:30-6 pm Rawabet Theater Negar Azimi, Bidoun Library Project.

Day 2: Rethinking the archive

Time Venue Topic & Speaker

10 – 11:30 am Rawabet Theater Activating the Archive: Claire Hsu, Asia Art Archive and Farah Wardani, Indonesian Visual Art Archive.

11:30 – 12:00 Rawabet Theater Coffee break

12:00 – 12:45 pm Rawabet Theater Barnaby Drabble: The Archive as a Performance of Knowledge. Curating Degree Zero Archive 2003-2008.

12:45 – 1:30 pm Rawabet Theater Vasif Kortun, Platform Garanti Archive.

1:30 – 2:30 pm Townhouse Factory Space Lunch.

2:30 – 3:15 pm Rawabet Theater Heba Farid, Center for Documenta-tion of Cultural and Natural Heritage (CultNat).

3:15 – 3:45 pm Rawabet Theater Coffee break.

3:45 – 4:30 pm Rawabet Theater Hussein Omar and Lucie Ryzova: Remembering Downtown: Making Memory History.

4:30 – 5:15 pm Rawabet Theater Artist Talk: Celine Condorelli, Il n’y a Plus Rien (‘There is Nothing Left’).

5:15 – 6:45 pm Rawabet Theater Moderated Discussion, Hegemony and the Archive.

Day 3: Processing the Archive. Towards a collaborative model of knowledge production?

Time Venue Topic & Speaker

10 – 10:50 am Rawabet Theater Keynote presentation by Beatrice von Bismarck: The Archive in Transformation.

10:50 – 11:50 am Rawabet Theater PAD.MA.

11:50 – 12:15 pm Rawabet Theater Coffee break.

12:15 – 1 pm Rawabet Theater Sean Dockray: ‘AAAARG.ORG DOES NOT EXIST’.

1 – 2:30 pm Townhouse Factory Space Lunch.

2:30 – 3:30 pm Rawabet Theater Jesús Carrillo, the «Universal Archive» and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia.

3:30 – 5 pm Rawabet Theater Moderated Discussion, The Promise of the Archive

5 – 5:30 pm Rawabet Theater Wrap up and closing of the symposium.

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