November 11, 2020

The Whole Life Academy Berlin

Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)

Whole Life Academy Dresden, 2019. Photo: Laura Fiorio.

The current situation of global social and political unrest is strongly connected to archival practices. In recording, storing, and sharing our lived experience, data, and knowledge, the present is captured within a constellation of complex historical and contemporary social choreographies and sensual protocols. The Whole Life Academy Berlin rehearses collaborative forms of knowledge production in archives, unfolding the life of archival material and their potential for rendering visible the intricacies of the now.

What strategies of commoning, collectivity, and solidarity can archives offer in the face of health, economic, natural, and political crises? How can local narratives, archival objects, and biographies contained within archives be made legible for today? How do our current human and non-human relations shape the ways in which archives are built and function?

Taking the archive as a public space of assembly in which the material and non-material foundations of the present are both created and contested, a second edition of The Whole Life Academy is set to take place at HKW and Haus der Statistik in Berlin in 2021, following its launch in Dresden in May 2019.

Embedded in an international long-term research process, the Academy in April 2021 offers a week-long local program combining excursions, seminars, and archival viewings. In 10 different workshops, archives are taken as the premise from which participants will reformulate an understanding of contemporary and historical practices of collecting, gathering and distancing. Taking up urgent questions on decolonizing archives and unfolding marginalized narrations, the workshops propose and test alternative forms of access to archival material. The Academy’s workshops connect theory, practice, and on-site research in a continuously developing nomadic curriculum that seeks to think along with the possibilities and limits of both analogue and digital tools of rereading, sharing, and researching archives.

The workshops feature a curated program of site visits across the cultural and natural topography of Berlin as well as guest contributions from activists, archivists and artists including Alice Creischer and Andreas Siekmann, Doreen Mende, Adam Jasper Smith, Anna-Sophie Springer, Florian Wüst, and Vadim Zakharov, among others.

For detailed information on the workshops click here.

The week-long curriculum of the Academy will be accompanied by a public evening program and will be followed by a congress at HKW from April 22–24, 2021.

Who can participate?
The call for participation is addressed to scholars and practitioners from a wide range of disciplines including the arts, humanities, social and natural sciences, design, and architecture. The Academy promotes an interdisciplinary working environment and welcomes applications from masters and doctoral students, artists, writers, researchers, curators, journalists, activists, or from professionals working within institutions with collections, archives, or other systems of knowledge.

Participation in The Whole Life Academy is free of charge and meals are covered throughout the week. Participants are expected to finance their own travel costs and accommodation. HKW can support participants in their possible applications for travel grants or funding.

Requirements and submission
Applicants are expected to actively participate in one workshop for the duration of the week and to be committed to interdisciplinary collaboration and engaged discussion. The program will be conducted in English.

Please submit proposals clearly indicating three workshop choices in preferential order and attaching a short CV and a motivation letter of 200–400 words. The letter should include information about your research interests and/or practices in relation to the Academy’s methods and the urgency of such archival research today.

Please send proposals as pdf files to wholelifeapplications [​at​]

All updates concerning possible Covid-19-regulations will be communicated on

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 (SKD). 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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