Any interesting image does not belong to only one time,
any interesting image is a confrontation, a coexistence of different times.
The human desire of recognizing within itself the existence of a vision of the world materializes by building a system which is an image to the images of the world. As the locus mundus originated from organizing chaos, and human knowledge from the individual that looks at it, so the tension towards knowledge leads man into creating collections such as the archive and the atlas.
Thus the world is the alpha and the omega of a research attempting to create a new cosmos by projecting itself towards eternity and beyond death, where documents and images are conceived as partial witnesses of existence. As act that resides between utopia and manic obsession, the archive is the meeting point between individual and collective memory, it is the mirror of its author’s thoughts and, essentially, an index of cultural history. Therefore it is not only a space for the conservation of works, a system for auto-validation, and an instrument for controlling our own production, it is is rather an entity that lives within the perpetual flowing of time and space. Being in a continuous dialogue between past, present and future, but always subjected to external and internal pressures, the archive is the result of a political choice of a force that wields the power of inclusion and exclusion, following criteria that establish a hierarchy of values while defining its content.
Reflecting on the hypertrophy of the image, Günther Anders identified all those reasons that encourage man towards abandoning his human uniqueness in the melancholic inadequacy with which he relates to the technological ideal of multiple existence and the ideal of the machine’s renewable modernity. The attempt to overcome the Promethean shame is expressed within the flow of serial representations that became the purpose of a way of acting of the contemporary man. A behaviour which reflects in all the self portraits spreading on the internet that constitute an immaterial and diffused archive shared among the social networks, which also permeates the Atlas collection started by Gerhard Richter during the 1960’s: an ongoing project in which images of our age continuously flow into, but still the narration of a single artist’s look. Otherwise Vadim Zakharov questions the archive, using it as an aesthetic quality that takes its form in a series of works: in 2002, with the shape of a wall made of giant folders, he exposed his personal History of Russian art (from the avantgarde to the Moscow conceptual school), capturing the issue of the archive’s power passing through irony, the building of his artistic identity and auto-validation. In 2010 Georges Didi-Huberman carried out the exposition Atlas ¿Cómo llevar el mundo a cuestas?, shedding light on how the methodology, which underlies the development of Aby Warburg’s Atlas Mnemosyne, is really at the core of artistic researches of the 20th and 21st centuries, and on how all diversities reunite in the vertigo of existence. The archiver, such as Atlas, bears the load of the world’s totality and the archive is the container and also the content inside which different times of existence chase each other in the motion generated by the archiver’s and the academic’s gesture.
As spectators of the accumulation of images we experience the paradox behind the exhibition of an archive as a moment that generates a short circuit between the private sphere that implemented it and the public interest towards this portion of the world. Thus the temporal continuity and the intimate environment that characterize it are capsized into the realization of an event with temporary and public features, which opens itself to the possibility of reinterpreting the system of a kind of knowledge that is usually reserved for specialists. Even though the archive is born without the faculty of pre-viewing itself, because the aesthetic dimension is not necessary to it, its image exists and it is multiple, composed by fragments and uncertainty it opens itself to the external world. When considering atlases the possibilities of exhibiting are remarkable, but what happens when we wish to exhibit a private archive made of data and documents it is unclear, and the question remains on which possible methods we shall consider to transform the relation between an individual and the archive into an open dialogue within a dimension of art that gradually becomes more democratic, engaging into relation different types of public, histories, places and eras.
Everything adds up, coagulates, gathers and is forgotten in the spectre of human memory.
“In reality, the past is preserved by itself automatically.” (1)
(1) Henri Bergson, L’évolution créatrice, 1907.