Performing the Archive – Archive(s) of the Liberal Performing Arts – Concept and State of Play
The discussion, initiated by the then management team of the IMPULSE Theater Festival, Stefanie Wenner and Florian Malzacher, has been going on since 2013: the legacy of the independent performing arts, which have developed since the 1960s into the “second pillar” of the German theatrical landscape, lies dormant, scattered far and wide, mostly still with the former and current protagonists on shelves, in boxes, folders and cartons. In many cases already in cellars and attics. Among them: Video and audio data carriers, analog and above all digital, in part in formats for which hardly anyone today has reading devices – in short: the history of the independent performing arts and their productions is in danger of being lost.
The impulse to preserve and make accessible this tradition as an essential part of the cultural memory of the Federal Republic of Germany initially met with a broad response: a study on the subject was realized with the support of the Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media and the cultural administrations of five German states and published under the title “Performing the Archive”. In 2016, a two-day conference was held at the Munich Literaturhaus, made possible by the cultural department of the state capital, at which findings and concepts were discussed.
In a nutshell, the “living archive of the independent performing arts” is primarily about a large, preferably comprehensive digital catalog of the existing archival materials, which are thus to be referenced for the interested public and made accessible and accessible for scientific and artistic research. The programmatic title “Performing the Archive” signals that it is not intended to be an “archive” in the classical sense, in which the canon of eternal values is protected from damage or loss rather than being made accessible. Rather, the idea is that the actors of the independent performing arts make their work and its foundations and origins available for viewing, research and further use in the sense of their very own practice.
I would like to inform and discuss about this concept and the state of affairs regarding its realization, and thus also further promote the open project, which could gladly use more comrades-in-arms.
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