October 19, 2018

The Whole Life Academy

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)

AdA - Archiv der Avantgarden. © SKD. Photo: David Pinzer.

Archives are the memory space of a society. As an institution they deeply shape the lived realities in a transforming present. In a so called era of post-truth, archives reflect and effect worldviews and knowledge constellations, documenting networks, power relations, and actors, in time and beyond time. Archival objects, thus, are much more than a record or representation of a past condition; they provoke a certain relationship between past, present, and future and mobilize temporal and topographic categories. Therefore it is necessary to encourage new approaches to collecting, researching, and archiving, to develop strategies that integrate marginalized realities of the past for a better understanding of contemporary complexities.

The Archiv der Avantgarden (AdA), a unique repository donated by the Berlin collector Egidio Marzona to the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD), is in the process of transformation from a private collection into a public archive. This collection encompasses around 1.5 million items combining artworks, prototypes, magazines, design objects and documentation of artistic production. As an archive it provides an index of twentieth-century aesthetic thinking and a record of the time’s sociopolitical ethics and utopian ideals, opening up questions regarding the constitution of an archive and its relation to contemporary sociopolitical developments.

These potential formulations launch the project The Whole Life: Archives and Reality—a collaboration of Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD), Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst e.V. / Archive außer sich, and Pina Bausch Foundation—and outline the agenda for a week-long Academy to be held between May 19 and 25, 2019 in Dresden.

The Academy features a curriculum that includes excursions, working sessions, research, and public presentations. It will allow for a hands-on exploration of documents, films, works of art, and artifacts, connecting the AdA to participating-partner archives and SKD archives and selected locations across Dresden. Participants will apply their questions, methods and practices to explore nomadically aesthetic discourses the cultural topography of the archive, and its political agency. How can an archive’s materialized descriptions of complex cultural milieus become a tool to unravel collaborative knowledge production? How can we render visible the relations, genealogies, and resistances of the materials and objects of an archive?

The week culminates in a Congress (May 23–25), bringing together interdisciplinary experts and objects in order to explore archival material, locate traces, and narrate biographies, fusing the formats of the conference and public archive exploration.

Who can participate?
The call for participation is addressed to master’s and doctoral students from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds including the arts, humanities, social and natural sciences, design, and architecture. We also welcome applications from independent artists, self-organized writers, intellectuals, researchers, curators, coordinators, editors, journalists, activists from outside academia, or from professionals working within institutions with collections, archives, or other representational systems of knowledge.

Participation in The Whole Life Academy is free of charge. Accommodation and catering will be provided for all participants throughout the curriculum. Participants are expected to finance their own travel costs. A limited number of needs-based travel grants can be provided upon request. Please contact us as soon as possible for further information.

We are seeking proposals consisting of a short CV and a motivation letter in which a research question must be formulated. The motivation letter should be between 300 and 500 words in length and include information about your own research interests and/or practices as well as a statement about which kinds of settings, formats, and methods in connection to the AdA and archives in general you believe need negotiation—both inside and outside academia.

Please include contact details for one or two references if possible. Please send proposals as pdf files to wholelife [​at​]

• Deadline for submission of applications: December 15, 2018

• Notification of acceptance: January 18, 2019

Applicants should be committed to interdisciplinary collaboration and engaged discussion. Active participation is expected during both the Academy program and the Congress.

The program will be conducted in English.

If you are concerned that your level of proficiency in English is sufficient to attend the program, please contact us and we will try to organize a translator for you.

Further information: wholelife [​at​]

The Whole Life Academy is a collaboration of Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst e.V. / Archive außer sich, Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), 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.

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