The public art of performative archiving

The public art of performative archiving

Performative archiving is construed here as a range of archival art practices which produce reflection for empowered public spheres in the context of today’s generalised archive culture. Reflection on the potential of archive art practices to produce conditions of public sphere in contemporary urban environments lies at the center of the art and research activities pursued at the Laboratory for Visual Arts, at the Department of Architecture, University of Patras, since 1999. A network of artists, theorists, architects and students is mobilised in an integrated field of theory and critical spatial practices in various directions which include collective works of critical interventions in different cities across the world,1 course cycles, workshops,2 and research in the expanded field of architecture.3 The current initiative of Archive Public is organised in a performative, open, internet publishing structure. It focuses on the possibility of public co-utterances which are produced experimentally and programmatically by the proposals which are submitted, added, framed and reproduced during the course of the project.

An intensified discussion on the archive, which takes place not only in archival science,4 but also in art,5 philosophy,6 media archaeology,7 after the so-called “archival turn” in the human sciences, brings out different dimensions of the archive in its affinities with constructions of memory and knowledge, the system of law, power relations and reproduction technologies. The archive has been discussed in the context of contemporary art practices as an impulse which encompasses a variety of different approaches to collection, documentation, classification, in combination with a wide range of media (photography, video, installations, actions). The positions advanced here are not based on a spatial and empirical conception of the archive but rather on its political dimension as a mechanism of organising knowledge and a communication of power. The archive concerns us as a wide cultural practice which has the intention to intervene and to empower, and it can function as an agent for new forms of interaction and communication of memory and identity in a public sphere which flows simultaneously in physical and virtual spaces. The construction of such an archive is not a research on memory, but concerns “a question of the future, the question of the future itself, the question of a response, of a promise and of a responsibility for tomorrow”.8 Connecting the archive with questions of democracy, participation and governmentality is particularly important today if we take into account the change of the public basis of archives due to paradigmatic shifts which are related to the virtual production of knowledge and various transformations in the geopolitical and social field, such as the global movement of populations, the destruction of national archives or the opening of state archives in Eastern Europe after 1989.

archival installation

So far archival art has been discussed by theorists, art historians and curators as an archival installation.9 The staging of an archival space which collects the dispersed material of research as an accumulation of objects and documents has characterised the majority of archival works even after the ’90s. Exclusively spatial terms, such as installation, storage, collection have dominated the art discourse on archival methods and practices,10 emphasising the stability of archival content and its narrativity. In the case of archival installations, what is offered to public view is the result of the archiving process by the artist-archivist. The constitution of the archive and its publication are non-synchronous processes. The public function of the archive is confined to planned or accidental communicative actions during the archival exhibition. Thomas Hirshhorn’s Bataille Monument (2002) provides an example of such a work, having organised an exhibition of archival material which is devoted to Bataille in the form of familiar, “improvised” spaces of reading and socialising (which the artist calls “monuments”) in a Turkish neighbourhood in Kassel during the Documenta 11 exhibition.

archive and public sphere

The archive, however, is not equivalent to an exhibition, a narrative or an interpretation. It is an ordering system which produces exhibitions, narratives and interpretations. “The archive does not tell stories; only secondary narratives give meaningful coherence to its discontinuous elements” as Ernst argues.11 “Power” he writes, “is the area where narratives don’t take place; the rest is interpretation”.12 In this sense, there are no stable meanings in an archive. The activation of a field of potential meanings rather than its narrative stability confers on the archive the character of a social project, which can constitute a public sphere. The dominance of content narration in a work leads us to a collection rather than to an archive, to idiosyncratic accumulations which do not raise questions of public sphere, democracy and “archontic power”,13 questions of inclusion and exclusion. Although today collection and archive are brought together in intertwined institutional and personal communication networks, their dissociation is useful for the construction of a genealogy of archival works. In what is an archival work par excellence, Broodthaers’ Modern Art Museum (1968-1972), the emphasis is not on narrativity (the theme of the eagle), but on instituting an archival structure and an administrative framework which functions in parallel to existing art institutions and produces a series of performative exhibitions and events dispersed across different cities.

The placement of an archive in public space as an installation on the street, on the Internet or in mass media, does not associate the archive with contemporary public art as an art of constructing public sphere. In the discourse of contemporary public art, the construction of a public sphere means something different from an intervention in public space: it does not address itself to pre-existing audiences but it constitutes a public which gets involved in political discussion and action. The public sphere is a political public sphere. What kind of public sphere does the archive organise, by what means, and to what end do its practices involve a specific, rather than a generalised, public? At which stages of the archive-making process is it possible to construct conditions of public discourse, if not in the installation of an exhibition? These questions relate the archive to the practices of public art within the context of the theory of democracy. “Effective democratization”, as Derrida points out, “can always be measured by this essential criterion: the participation in and the access to the archive, its constitution, and its interpretation”.14 The notion of participation is crucial for the production of a public sphere.15 It is participation that can produce multiple and different public spheres.16 The archive as democratic public art activates a field of plural but also “agonistic public spheres”,17 which are formed out of different and contending positions, «giving a voice to all those who are silenced within the framework of the existing hegemony».18 What is of interest here is the archive that does not thematise political issues in an exclusive public sphere of art. What is at issue in public archival art is the ways in which different public spheres, institutions, means and practices are connected with each other – ultimately, the strategies that resist the closure and the thematisation of the archive.

performative archiving

If archival installation entails a fixation of the archive in a (thematic) narrative of an exhibition, I would use the term “performative archiving” to designate a dynamic process of archive-making which evolves in the present, receiving archival entries which are readily available for editing and further uses. This condition mainly characterises the archive in a network archival culture. There has been a paradigm shift, a displacement of the spatial model of the archive towards a synchronic dispositive of continuous data transmission, which reverses the classical co ordinates of the archive, namely the stability and the preservation of documents, the “aura” of the material trace, its mnemotechnic arrangements, the architecture of access, the separation of storage from use. It is the synchronicity of the network archive which leads to its live configuration by wider, and not only local communities, and proliferates points of contact with the public. The archive is preserved and it transmits knowledge on account of, and not in spite of, this live configuration, as it happens with other performative forms of knowledge (oral narratives, ritual actions, etc.). In this transition from archival space to archival time,19 the modes of control and participation in the functions of the archive change. Public access to the archive is no longer regulated by a “topo-nomology”, by the architecture of entrance to the edifice of the archive and by a “legitimate hermeneutic authority”.20 A generalised participation in public archival interfaces, which remain controlled by electronic “firewalls”, is regulated by non-public techno-programmatic protocols.

The internet archive brings to the fore the internal regulative and productive order of every archive: “the law of what can be said, the system that governs the appearance of statements as unique events. […] the general system of formation and transformation of statements”, according to Foucault.21 While creating a new paradigm of archive making and relating to the public, it brings out at the same time the very virtual, fragmentary and unstable nature of every archive. It affirms that the archive is a way of organising knowledge which remains always incomplete, which is marked by gaps, shifts and unpredictable openings. The active interconnections of the archive with other archives enable its widest possible horizontal expansion. This centrifugal logic, which correlates a wide diversity of elements, enhances the possibilities of the different discourses, the dynamic of the archive in time.

When I use the term “performative” I refer both to the theory of performance and to the performative as established in Austin’s philosophy of language22 and thereafter in Butler’s work.23 Performance connotes an immediate relation of subjects active in the present, an event whose experience is more inportant than its documentation. By contrast, performativity is connected to iterability and the recycling of actions to the collective character of language. It refers to actions that establish a reality based on the iteration or displacement of (social) conventions. While the two concepts appear incompatible in this respect, in discussing performative archiving, I am interested in their potential convergence, taking into account Austin’s idea that a speech act produces an effect beyond the symbolic and descriptive use of language. Every archival entry which enters into circulation and direct use invokes the active character of speech. Phelan seeks to bring together the performativity of Austin’s speech act with the theory of performance, assuming that both share the impossibility of iteration or reproduction.24 This idea runs counter to the power of the archive, which ensures the iteration of its elements via rules. However, the internet archive functions through a different kind of iteration, that is an iteration with differences:25 it is this iteration which introduces a performative aspect in the recycling of contents, and an emphasis on the productive dimension of the archival instant.

archive public

Let us consider certain aspects of the operational order of digital archives and the archival culture they construct. Modern memory is essentially archival, based on direct and complete recordings.26 A popular culture of internet archiving shifts the interest towards the production of interconnected amateur archives. Today, there is a displacement of archival production from institutional to personal archives. Next to state, institutional and administrative archives there is an overproduction of informal, personal self-archiving. These archives are in a continuous public interaction. The exchange of stories produces collective memory. The institutions of memory (libraries, museums, archivists) connect these entries, creating a private-public continuum. The more diffused the archival production becomes in every aspect of everyday life, the more indiscernible the limits are between the institutional and the amateur, the public and the private, the original and the derivative. Archiving their lives, people “live” in the archive. The total occupation of everyday life by the archive takes place concurrently with the total concealment of its protocols and the political dimension intrinsic to them. A continuous archival performance is based on acts of sharing, recycling and feeding-in. In a network archive culture, human encounters are in a particular way the result and not the origin of digital archiving. In this sense, public archive becomes archive public: people meet in the archive. For the first time, this reversal brings to the foreground of archival practice the subject who is archiving and is being archived. It shifts attention to the public scene of archival interaction, at the moment it happens.

archival co-utterances

What kind of public sphere is constituted by this “archival public” as it manipulates a vast field of reproductions? During internet archival meetings, identities and subjectivities are being produced, adjusted to planned classifications and protocols of those who administer internet pools and social media (google, youtube, flickr, facebook, etc.). The rhetoric of unlimited public access is coupled with an absolute control of regulatory principles and archive protocols. Archival art performances problematise this field of knowledge and identity production, providing different frames of organisation and participation. Work on the archives under conditions of generalised everyday archiving is not an individual act of research and documentation, but it is rather the outcome of collaboration among different groups, organisations and institutions in a distributed network of desires and politics, which refers to other archives and connects a particular place with others. By constructing archival time, public archival art pursues simultaneous processes of writing, reading and use, which may become fields for the construction of bonds and identities, giving, moreover, voice to those who remain displaced among nations and cultures in the current condition of global migration flows. Appadurai speaks precisely about the role internet archives play in the creation of non-national public spheres, which he calls diasporic or migration public spheres, enabling the construction of imaginary communities by those who mostly need it: “what we may call the diasporic archive, or the migrant archive, is increasingly characterized by the presence of voice, agency and debate, rather than of mere reading, reception and interpellation”.27

The potential of performative archiving to create a public and to open up spaces of co-utterance and contest brings up new ideas of access and participation, forms of collectivity and distributed writing. The open archive may be initiated through a demand to organise possible forms of political action. It sets up a system of relations, aspiring to a form of intervention which usually exceeds the limits of art, and it incorporates practices and discourses which are produced in a wider cultural context. Park Fiction is an example of such an archive, at the limits of art, politics and urban planning. The archive, in this sense, follows the genealogy of “productive art” or art activism: it specifies a field of positive meanings, a utopia of the present; it is a mapping practice available to different possible uses. At the same time, however, plural writing implies a loss of control over the production of the archive. The unpredictability of live encounters stimulates archival imagination, producing parallel and asymptotic archival co-utterances. Performance activates “moments of speech and act”, which are ends-in-themselves.28 These “moments of speech and act” open up a democratic perspective, producing new disjunctions between locations, imagination and identity. Archival co-utterances bring out a frame of organisation and disorganisation; they are performed in the absence of a stable background, in a condition where the meaning and the unity of the social are subject to negotiation: the democratic perspective is related thus to what Lefort calls the “image of an empty place”.29

performative constructions

Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno’s No Ghost Just a Shell (1999-2002) has been discussed by Foster30 as an extreme case of archival art, which transfers to the physical exhibition space performative notions and practices such as sampling and sharing, that mainly characterise the internet archival management; producing also a reflection on copyright and post-production. The historian distinguishes between archival art and database art: the former aspires to “human interpretation” rather than to “machinic reprocessing”; it refers to “recalcitrant” rather than “fungible” archival material.31 We follow the outcome of the genesis and development of an archive, based on a scenario which includes the purchase of copyright for an unsuccessful manga character from a Japanese animation company and its transfer to artists with parallel commissions for the production of works, ideas and narratives. These works seek to shape the character’s new imaginary identity. It is a project which turns into a “chain” of projects, “a dynamic structure that produce[d] forms that are part of it”.32 The work uses the archival scenario to try out a new kind of curatorial practice and to suggest an alternative possibility of archival installation which is dispersed across different art spaces and comprises collected objects in different media. It is a non-network archival performance with no intention to institute or to create a public sphere.

In contrast to the curatorial collection process used by Huyghe and Parreno, Park Fiction (1995-2005) offers an example of a non-network performance, which establishes archiving as an instituting practice, seeking to provide an alternative urban planning in order to impede the corporate and state plans of gentrification in the St. Pauli district in Hamburg.33 Park Fiction defines itself as a scheme for the collective production of desires for a park. The “archive of desires” was one of the instruments of this production, setting up live platforms for an exchange among heterogeneous groups: St.Pauli residents, social organisations, the local church, owners of local shops and cafés, the squats movement, the politicised art community, the music scene around Golden Pudel Klub. Although it gave a concrete shape to the final realization of the park, the archive can be seen as a way of retarding action, as a long duration performance which enabled the mobilisation of a set of relations among people, ideas, identities and locations, with tensions and conflicts. As Raunig notes, “the process, through which the park emerged is not recognizable in the “objects”; the explosiveness of their creation, the linking of the singular and the collective in desire production remains hidden”.34

A substantial part of practices since 1994 has focused on communicative interactions within a public realm which has been expanded by electronic media, raising questions of access, engagement and community production. The early communication platforms of, such as The Thing, 7-11, Nettime and Syndicate have been discussed as art projects.35 They can be seen, moreover, as performative archival practices which seek, on the one hand, to constitute a “community of producers’ and, on the other hand, to produce a discourse over the political at the very moment that it happens. The constitution of these networked platforms is archival in the sense that they institute an organising basis for the critical framing of works as they are produced, for the production of new works and new audiences, at a distance from existing art institutions. In contrast to the exhibition of political documents undertaken over the last years by an acceptable “political” art – a political thematisation of the archive acceptable in the context of aesthetic autonomy – this archival structure is a political performance, connecting public art with new media activism (tactical media). Part of this political performance consists in experimenting with acts of archival writing which are based on eccentric and performative modes of collective identity. For instance, on the 7-11 mailing list, “the majority of messages were practically illegible, placing all of their relational value in the circulation and exchange of pure signifiers […] At the same time, a complex system of pseudonyms and continual rotation meant that the list had no fixed moderator, and even the identifiers could be modified by the participants. […] Clearly this group had little interest in dialogue or rational debate, so the forum gradually became a kind of collective macrowork of Net art. The intention was to participate in a communicative game of creating a community that did not exist beyond its constitutive acts of communication”. 36

One of the first works, Muntadas’ File Room (1994) uses installation and network media as performative laboratories for the production of an archive which refers to the archive itself as a site of power and control. The archive thematises that which is silenced or eliminated from every archive, the repression of memory in every instance of social, political, religious and cultural censorship, now and through history, in different contexts, countries and cultures. The archive does not set any scientific or other criteria for its entries. It is “an open system that becomes activated, “filed” and developed through the public process of its own existence”.37 This public archiving organises social time in the former library site of Chicago Centre of Culture and the internet, where archivists and users meet up, talk and are faced with their own decisions about the articulation of archival content, the contradictions of the archiving system and self-censorship “without which censorship could not work”.38

The third example of a performative archive mainly intervenes in the mechanism of the network structure of information, in a work organised by different collectivities. (Public Access Digital Media Archive) (2008 onwards), designed by co-operating groups and organisations at the intersection of art, politics and technology39 manages a vast pool of video material which has been produced in India since the ’90’s, during the so called “DV revolution” and remains outside archives, as it does not form a complete work: unedited footage, incomplete trials, various found film material. It is a scattered material which remains outside the distribution system, which is repressed or excluded by distributors, creators or spectators. It has been produced mainly in Mumbai and Bangalore and includes documentation of “changing cityscapes, street and domestic life, commercial and intellectual activity, protests, chance meetings, police raids, train-rides, horse-carriages and other transports, conversations with various community, state and corporate interests, players and agents, art works, films, film clips, “found” footage, etc”.40 PadMa constructs a public, open source platform of performative archiving which works in the present with dense, video meta-data. This archiving is related to the processing, transcription, commentary and reframing of existing material by archivists, researchers, residents, artists and activists. It introduces a new form of networked video, beyond those already existing (documentaries, video-clips etc.); its importance lies in the political performance enacted by the collective writing which reframes the material, and the multiple links and classifications available to various uses.

Mnemeden (1999-2001)41 is paradigmatic of a series of archival works which function in combined fields of mediated and face-to-face communication, on which I have worked either on my own or in collaboration whith other artists and groups, from 1999 onwards. These are archiving works which do not seek to expose the latent or repressed components of historical knowledge, but they attempt to activate an apparatus that problematises the present, using a combination of bodily movement tactics and network media which publish reproductions of experience at certain sites. A “mute” historic monument of Thessaloniki, everyday life in a traditional settlement in Arcadia and in a Tel Aviv suburb, Istanbul during grand cultural events, a gentrified district in London, ghettoised Berlin suburbs, the recent history of a refugee camp in Patras are some of the places in which a productive notion of the archive is being tested under specific circumstances.42 The bodily movements across these places as well as the digital recycling of contents produce enhanced realities of the places or they become the theatre of new and unexpected public spheres. Let us consider the function of synchronicity in the works Diatopia and Conversations Curatives: discourses of a certain place are introduced in other localities, subject to reconfiguration outside the original place. This reframing changes the meanings of the place. In another way, a particular discourse (a text by Raymond Roussel)43 is introduced into a place and it is connected with local discourses, which in turn become the occasion for new discourses as they are performed by writers who participate from afar. The rotation of people and discourses across different places is the means which sets in motion the performance. Such performance is enacted in a wiki-archive.44 Some archival instances are published on the collecting sites of the Elephant & Castle district of London.

Another series of works revolves around the person and the identity of the archivist in collective actions. Gregorios Pharmakis is an open identity constituted by the actions of persons who participate each time in an open framework of in situ work. Certain regulations determine the conditions of action for the person. The discourses which reconfigure the frames of action and the reproductions of action archive the plural person of the archivist. A wiki platform is identified with this archival identity performance. “Gregorios Pharmakis’ works stabilize, through this person’s concept of instability, a new possibility of a “unified” communal practice. This communal practice leads to a problematic formation of a “subject” through a wiki process. A wiki process is here characterized by the concept of a communal, empty, acting, ghost-like unified center, the dependence on a work undertaken that is the only unifying scheme, the open character of this schema that replaces the concept of individuality with a concept of a phantasmatic acting agent”.45 In 3 persons, in a particularly explosive social condition in Patras, the electrician who connects electricity to the self-built refugee camp, the museum owner who directs an amateurish “museum” of precious stones, and the activist who is involved in the publication of the anarchist journal Babylonia in the occupied space of the historic Annex of the University of Patras converse with each other and explain their actions in a tripartite timeline configured as a music score. At the end of the performance, the music score is stored in the closed private museum of the museum owner in the Aroi suburb of Patras.

Through different practices, the foregoing works engage in performative archiving, organising archival time. If they have a spatial aspect, this has a function in a living archiving process. The synchronicity of performance, in distant or person-to-person encounters, creates the possibility of public co-utterances, of bringing together public spheres at different stages of the archiving process. The foregoing works invent forms of participation and collective writing, determining the roles and the responsibility of subjects during the development of archival time, regulating different levels of interaction among persons, social groups, institutions, practices, thematic areas, media, physical and virtual spaces. Part of their strategy lies in the dispositives that they set up, that is, in scenarios and mechanisms through which they enable the diffusion, circulation and recycling of archival data in distributed processes. These are centrifugal processes which resist the thematisation of the archive and its confinement within the discourse of art. Their intervention aims at a different mode of instituting in the world of art, which problematises the local conditions of social spaces and cultural institutions. They shift our interest away from archival accumulation and preservation, away from the “ideology of the trace”, and towards the moment of speech and act which bears the “capacity to aspire”.46 While they are triggered by an intention to actively institute, to organise tactics of action, they insist on the political performance of “act and speech” at the moment they occur.

1 See the relevant discussion at the end of the essay.

2 See Panos Kouros, Constructing the public sphere: topical works 2002-07, Patras: Futura – Department of Architecture, University of Patras, 2007.

3 See Elpida Karamba, Archive art from the 20th to the 21st century. From an art of institutional critique to a radical instituting practice, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Patras, 2012.

4 See Τerry Cook, “Archival Science and Postmodernism: New Formulations for Old Concepts”, Archival Science, 1 (1), 2000, p. 3-24 and Eric Katelaar, “Being Digital in People’s Archives”, Archives & Manusripts, 31 (2), 2003, p. 8-22.

5 See Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, “Warburg’s Paragon? The End of Collage and Photomontage in Postwar Europe”, in Ingrid Schaffner, Matthias Winzen (eds.), Deep Storage, Munich, Prestel, 1998; Boris Groys, Unter Verdacht: Eine Phänomenologie der Medien, München: Carl Hanser, 2000; Hal Foster, “An Archival Impulse”, October, 110, 1-22, 2004; Sven Spieker, The Big Archive, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008; Okwui Enwezor, Archive Fever. Uses of Document in Contemporary Art, New York: Goettingen, InternationalCenter of Photography and Steidl Publishers, 2008.

6 Michel Foucault, L’ Archéologie de savoir, Paris: Gallimard, 1969. Jacques Derrida, Mal d’ Archive, Greek translation, Athens: Ekkremes, 1996.

7 Wolfgang Ernst, Das Rumoren der Archive, Berlin: Merve, 2002; Wolfgang Ernst,“The Archive as Metaphor. From Archival Space to Archival Time”, Open, 7, 2004, p. 46-52.

8 Derrida, ibid., p. 60.

9 See, among others: Βeatrice von Bismarck et al (eds.), Interarchive: Archivarische Praktiken und Handlungsrdume im zeitgenfisischen Kunstfeld / ArchivalPractices and Sites in the Contemporary Art Field, Köln: Walter Konig, 2002; Foster, op.cit., Charles Merewether (ed.), The Archive. Documents of Contemporary Art, London: Whitechapel Ventures Limited, 2006 and a series of exhibitions: Deep Storage: Collecting, Storing, and Archiving (P.S.1, New York, 1998), Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art (ICP, Νew York, 2008), Universal Archive (MACBA, Barcelona, 2008).

10 Archival art “… often arranges these materials according to a quasi-archival logic, a matrix of citation and juxtaposition, and presents them in a quasi-archival architecture, a complex of texts and objects (again, platforms, stations, kiosks …)” (Foster, ibid., p. 5).

11 Ernst, ibid., p. 48.

12 Ibid., p. 49.

13 Derrida, ibid., p. 23.

14 Ibid., p. 143.

15 “Thus, it matters who participates and on what terms. […] Together, these two ideas – the validity of public opinion and citizen empowerment vis-à-vis the state – are essential to the concept of the public sphere in democratic theory. Without them, the concept loses its critical force and its political point”. (Fraser, “Transnationalizing the Public Sphere”, 2005., [accessed on 25.3.2011]).

16 The practice of participation in art is distinguished from both collective action and interaction. It presupposes the differentiation of producers and receivers and it anticipates different levels of participation by the latter in the constitution of the work. Here I do not refer to the elementary participation which is identified with the act of interpretation, but to the effective participation which includes changes in the structure or parts of the work. The practices of participation and collective action are connected with the critique of the exclusionary character of art institutions. They include a wide range of methods and aesthetic parameters, as well as different assumptions about the kind of community they establish.

17 See Chantal Mouffe, The Democratic Paradox, London: Verso, 2000.

18 Chantal Mouffe, “Art and Democracy, Art as an agonistic Intervention in Public Space”, Open, 14, 2008, p. 12.

19 Ernst, ibid.

20 The terms “topo-nomology” and “legitimate hermeneutic authority” are drawn from Derrida, ibid., p. 17.

21 Foucault, ibid., p. 169.

22 See John Langshaw Austin, How to Do Things with Words, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962.

23 See Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex, New York & London: Routledge, 1993 and Excitable Speech: A Politics of Performative, New York: Routledge, 1997.

24 See Peggy Phelan, Unmarked: the politics of performance, London: Routledge, 1993, p. 149.

25 See Hito Steyerl, “Politics of the archive. Translations in film”, 2008. transversal/0608/steyerl/en, [accessed: 25/3/2011].

26 See Pierre Nora, “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Memoire”, Representations, 26, 7-24, 1989, p. 23.

27 Arjun Appadurai, “Archive and Aspiration”, in Brouwer, J. & Mulder, A. (eds.), Information is Alive, Rotterdam: V2_Publishing/NAI Publishers, pp. 14-25, 2003, p. 22.

28 “… for in these instances of action and speech the end (telos) is not pursued but lies in the activity itself which therefore becomes an entelecheia, and the work is not what follows and extinguishes the process but is imbedded in it; the performance is the work, is energeia”. (Hannah Arendt, Τhe Human Condition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998 [1958], p. 206.)

29 Quoted in: Rosalyn Deutsche, Evictions. Art and Spatial Politics, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996, p. 273.

30 See. Foster, ibid.

31 See ibid., p.5. This distinction cannot be sustained today, if we take into account the complex ways in which electronically mediated discourses inform and mobilise particular localities and collective memory. The position of the historian reveals the actual incompatibilities between art history and Net art. On these incompatibilities, see Julian Stallabrass, “Can Art History Digest Net Art?”, in Dieter Daniels, Gunther Reisinger, eds., Netpioneers 1.0 – Archiving, Representing and Contextualising Early Netbased Art, Berlin, Sternberg Press: 2009, p. 165-179.

32 Foster, ibid., p. 4.

33 On the notion of instituting practice in relation to Park Fiction, see Gerald Raunig, “Instituent Practices, No. 2: Institutional Critique, Constituent Power, and the Persistence of Instituting” in Gerald Raunig, Gene Ray (eds.), Art and Contemporary Critical Practices, London: MayLayBooks, 2009, p. 173-185.

34 Ibid., p. 184.

35 See Josephine Bosma, “Constructing Media Spaces – The novelty of net(worked) art was and is all about access and engagement”, 2005. public_sphere_s/media_spaces/1/, [accessed on 25/3/2011].

36 José Luis Brea, “Online Communities: Experimental Communication in the Virtual Diaspora”, in Gerardo Mosquera and Jean Fisher (eds.), Over Here, Interantional Perspectives on Art and Culture, New York: New Museum of Contemporary Art – MIT Press, 2004, p. 201.

37 Antonio Muntadas, “Introductory Notes to The File Room”, 1994. http://www.thefileroom. org/documents/Intro.html, [accessed on 25/3/2011].

38 Ibid.

39 Namely the 0x2620 group from Βerlin, Alternative Law Forum from Bangalore and three organisations from Mumbai : Majlis, Point of View and Chitrakarkhana/CAMP. See “PadMa”, PadMa About, 2008. (accessed on 25/3/2011).

40 Ibid.

41 (Mnemeden) Μνημηδέν (1999-2001) on the internet and Hamam Bey Ottoman baths in Thessaloniki. See Panos Kouros, “Mnemeden: a net.performance of mnemonic conceptions”, in Laura Knott, Bernd Kracke, eds., Sky Art, Cambridge: C.A.V.S./ M.I.T., 2002, p. 186-189.

42 The works cited are the following: Mnemeden, Diatopia. Traversing the landscape, producing place networks (2003) in collaboration with Demos Demetriou and Stephanie Benzaquin in Stemnitsa at Arcadia, Patras and Holon, Tel Aviv, Apothecae (Gregorios Pharmakis) (2005) in the Biennale and the UIA World Conference at Istanbul, Conversations Curatives (2009) in Elephant & Castle, London, City Seed Refuge (2010) in collaboration with Susanne Gerber, Berlin, 3 persons (Gregorios Pharmakis) in the context of Archive Public.

43 Raymond Roussel’s novel Locus Solu is based on an elaborated performative process of writing and provides the conceptual basis for Conversations Curatives.

44 A wiki-archive is organised as a particular internet platform, allowing collective writing.

45 See Gregorios Pharmakis, “Who Is Gregorios Pharmakis”, 2009. http://gregorios-pharmakis., [πρόσβαση 25/3/2011].

46 See Appadurai, ibid.

Published in: Panos Kouros and Elpida Karaba (ed.), Archive Public. Performing Archives in Public Art. Τοpical Interpositions, Patras: Department of Architecture, University of Patras, and Cube Art Editions, 2012). Τhis is a revised version of the essay in A.-I. D. Metaxas (ed.), Political Science: An Interdisciplinary and Critical Approach to Political Action, Athens: Sakkoulas (forthcoming).

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