ARCHIVES FOR THE FUTURE
University of Westminster, London, 29 March 2014.
Organised by Mnemoscape (Elisa Adami and Alessandra Ferrini) with the support of the
University of Westminster, the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture (IMCC)
and The International Association for Visual Culture (IAVC).
Keynote speakers: Dr Uriel Orlow (University of Westminster) and Dr Francis Gooding (Birkbeck College). Full programme and video recordings available on
the website: www.archivesforthefuture.wordpress.com
Archives for the Future was a conference about archives and about the future.
Living in a time when archival collections are digitized, new technologies produce new archival traces, old fears of nuclear destruction have re-emerged with the resulting reconfiguration of conservation techniques and pre-emptive strategies,
we were concerned with the future of archives.
What would the future of archival theory be like, in the post-Derrida, post-Foucault, post-Sekula moment, or in other words, in the post post-modern phase we are living through? What new readings of the archives and what new approaches to the idea of the archive itself can we articulate after the archive-as-object and the archive-as-institution have been deconstructed; their nomological and political power has been disclosed and after new readings from below have been mobilized, creating a spread of multiple minor historical narratives?
An archive for the future is, in our opinion, both an archive designed, intended
for the future, and an archive that, in turn, has the potential to shape, forge, define, design the future. In this reading, the archive is not only a passive repository of things past, but also an instrument, a tool to act on the present in a transformative and political way, while imagining or re-imagining the future. In the conference the idea of an 'archive for the future' was explored from different perspectives,
placed within various theoretical and disciplinary frameworks, touched through diversified objects of study, and approached with the use of a diverse set of practices, from scholarly papers, to presentations of audio-visual artworks, up to the art performance with which we ended the day. This variety was mirrored also in the geographical reach of the presentations, which moved within many distant contexts, from Brazil to Lebanon, from Palestine to Germany, from the British landscape to Eastern Europe.
Yet, in spite of all this diversity, clear patterns emerge, recurrent motifs take form
and resonate not only within the single panels, but throughout the whole conference.
In particular, two main patterns are evident: the first, is the geological metaphor,
that emerges quite predominantly; the second, and related to first one, is the use
of spatial practices both to assess actual archives and to reveal latent ones.