As part of the Access and Reuse module, students were this year encouraged to visit any form of Moving Image presentation around Amsterdam and write a critical reflection on the curatorial practices of the institution as manifested in the presentation of the work. This second reflection was written by Mariela Cantú and Chia-Wei Tung.
In recent years, traditional boundaries between Film, Audiovisual Archives and theVisual Arts are becoming more permeable. As Julia Noordegraaf remarks, “Since their emergence, time-based media such as film, video, and digital media have been used by artists who experimented with the potential of these media (…) The resulting artworks, with their basis in rapidly developing technologies that cross over into other domains of culture such as broadcasting and social media, have greatly challenged the traditional infrastructures for exhibiting, describing, collecting, and preserving art.” (Noordegraaf, 2012:11).
Still, Film, Audiovisual Archives and the Visual Arts seem to live separate lives. In a time in which film, video and media art are becoming a significant source for interdisciplinary experimentation and theoretical exchange, institutional boundaries still operate, influencing modes of curating, exhibition and reception. While questioning these blurry yet existing limits, Jasper Rigole´s solo exhibition 81 things I thought I had forgotten, can be considered an art exhibition, an archive and a film show, simultaneously. The exhibition displays part the collection of the International Institute for the Conservation, Archiving and Distribution of Other people's Memories (IICADOM), a fictional archive created by the artist, which mainly consists of found footage material.
Intended as an institutional critique towards Audiovisual Archives, Rigole challenges traditional archival practices, both on an online and on an exhibition format. On IICADOM´s online platform, it creates a seemingly careless environment that serves merely as a hint of the whole project. As for the exhibition, it fights a tendency towards opacity, which has prevented many Archives from being explicit about their selection criteria and cataloguing practices. Shown in Z33 (Hasselt) and the Flemish Arts Centre De Brakke Grond (Amsterdam), 81 things displays Rigole´s personal collection of films, tapes, photographs and objects he found on the street, flea markets or garage sales. However, he does not want people to view it merely as a rag-picker’s private collection. According to Rigole’s statement, “The IICADOM sees it as its main task to seek for new destinations for those orphaned memories.” (IICADOM). The pieces in the Institute are open for re-interpretation and re- contextualisation, not only by the artist but also by any visitor.
Rigole established IICADOM on June 28 1980, which is in fact the day he was born. In this sense, the Institute seeks to challenge traditional demarcations between the private andthe public spheres, transforming what could be seen as a private collection into a public exhibition. In this same line, Rigole manages to shift between the individual and the collective memory, without ever blocking the fluid passages between them. By resorting to objects that he found or bought, but also to some that belong to his own personal history, the artist aims at blurring the boundaries between what is considered intimate and what corresponds to a collective domain. Likewise, visitors who recognise themselves, or a member of their family in the footage, or who find an object that belonged to them in the past, are welcome to retrieve their belongings, or to ask the artist to terminate their distribution.
IICADOM plays a major role in providing a lucid criticism towards some traditional methods in archives. Currently, it is a global trend for audiovisual archives to pursue the involvement of the general public, and online platforms have been improved in order to allow users to interact with audiovisual materials. According to Giovanna Fossati, “[a]long with new preservation and presentation practices from within the archives, new online participatory platforms are being introduced and supported that facilitate the development of what could be defined as ‘crowd film archiving’…” (Fosatti, 2012:178). IICADOM´s online platforms are strategically used as a means for making these types of archival tendencies more evident.
Paradoxically, only one movie can be found at IICADOM´s website: Paradise Recollected, a found footage film made by Rigole, using some footage from the Institute´s archive. In addition, a grand statement about the Institute´s mission and objectives is displayed on the site, bearing a close resemblance to the presentation of many contemporary official archives’ sites: “…IICADOM is aiming at a giant leap forward: as we want to set new goals, we aim at redistributing and reassessing the value of these orphaned memories and want to make them available for a wide range of new applications. We firmly believe that by doing so, the original value of the orphaned memories can be regained, therebyshifting this static archive towards a dynamic and lived memory.” (“IICADOM: Info”)
This grandiloquent declaration contrasts with the mere presentation of one film on the site, and a slight sense of irony can be perceived. At IICADOM.org, links that do not work, forms that can no longer be filled and lack of information other than the high-flown statement, suggest an outdated project. In addition, IICADOM´s collection of more than 1000 orphaned home movies are also held in the Internet Archive. Yet, few extra data about the clips and the Institute as a whole is provided. In contrast with the abundance of IICADOM’s home movie collection on the Internet Archive’s site, the collection’s long list of categories remain unexplained, as if they were traces of an ongoing (yet abandoned) archive. By making use of these strategies, IICADOM´s online versions trigger our curiosity. By concealing the materials themselves on its official web page, or by withholding the criteria of the collection’s metadata on the Internet Archive, a sense of “something missing” is suggested. Where is the “real” collection, then? Can fiction become real somewhere else? Could an actual space be the place to present IICADOM’s collection?
As discussed above, the concept of the IICADOM project acts as a kind of criticism and even mockery towards traditional archival practices, and this critical stance has become most evident when the artist’s collections are present in a physical space. According to Eric Ketelaar, “[n]umerous tacit narratives are hidden in categorization, codification and labeling” (Ketelaar, 2001:135), as previously pointed out, the online presentation of both the IICADOM’s official site and its collection on the Internet Archive seems to miss a lot ofparts, and its information remains concealed for viewers.
Yet, in the physical exhibition 81 things I thought I had forgotten, Rigole makes his selection and cataloguing criteria transparent to the public. In the exhibition, the collection of home movies is presented in a spatial installation called “An Elementary Taxonomy of Collected Memory”, which consists of a table with built-in viewing screens, allowing the viewers to go through the footage. According to Rigole, the work is “a visual representation of ‘the integrated system,’ the archiving system of the IICADOM.” (Jasper Rigole: Work “An Elementary Taxonomy of Collected Memory”). In the system, the home movies are categorised by thematic tags such as family gathering, travel, attractions, etc. And on the table, there are varied colored lines linking different footage with the same thematic tags, together to form a visual network of “collected memories”. In this way, the categorisation of work performed by the artist becomes visible and transparent for the viewers.
In other words, the physical installation enables the compilation work to be present, which is the major aspect that makes the exhibition distinct from the online presentations of Rigole’s home movie collection. As Gerda Cammaer claims in her essay, “with his distinct compilation style, Rigole has found an imaginative way to interrogate the way archives work, to explore the complex dialogue between memory and history…” (Cammaer, 2012:42). Hence, the added value of the physical exhibition is that Rigole makes the behind–the–scenes “categorization, codification and labeling” emerge before viewers, thus enabling the hidden“tacit narratives” to be revealed in front of the public.
Moreover, in 81 things, the artist intends to re-create an institutional space to present the works. The viewing table of “An Elementary Taxonomy of Collected Memory” somehow reminds people of the work stations in science institutions; the projections of slide shows displaying the text of “The Cinema of Attraction” by Tom Gunning resembles the pedagogical setting in a classroom, and in the juxtaposition with this is the projection of the movie Paradise Recollected with its didactic and banal narration voice filling the entire space.
Additionally, visitors are strongly advised to take the instructional “manual” compiled by the artist with them during the tour of the exhibition, which almost serves as a guide to lead people to go through the works. The whole exhibition environment is deliberately institutionalized and reminiscent of the authoritative setting of traditional institutions. Nevertheless, the artist also emphasizes in the introduction of the manual, “The most important instruction, however, is to understand that your active participation in thinking, exploring and filing is not only required for your own success but equally important for the IICADOM itself” (Rigole, 2015:3). This declaration openly invites people to re-interpret, intervene or even subvert the narratives of the found memories created by the artist, negating the workings of official archives once again. As Cammaer states, “Rigole’s work is ultimately defined by his investigation of the archive as a creative site: collection and selection become a creative activity, and the language and sign of the archive are used for their artistic potential rather than their original function” (Cammaer, 2012:42). By inviting the participation of visitors in the physical exhibition space, the memories collected by IICADOM becomes truly active and Rigole’s creative work can be finally completed.
– Cammaer, Gerda. “Jasper Rigole’s Quixotic Art Experiments with Home Movies and
Archival Practices: The International Institute for the Conservation, Archiving, and
Distribution of Other People’s Memories (IICADOM)” The Moving Image 12.2 (2012): 42-
– “Curating Film” OnCurating.org 3 (2010): 1-17. Web.
– Fossati, Giovanna. “Found Footage Filmmaking, Film Archiving and New Participatory Platforms.” Found Footage. Cinema Exposed (2012): 177-184. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press & Eye Film Institute Netherlands. Print.
– Ketelaar, Eric. “Tacit Narratives: The Meaning of Archives.” Archival Science 2:1 (2001):131-141. Print.
– Noordegraaf, Julia, Cosetta Saba, Barbara Le Maître, and Vinzenz Hediger, eds. Preserving and Exhibiting Media Art: Challenges and Perspectives. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2012. Print.
– Rigole, Jasper. Exhibition Manual: Note (2015). Print.
The Flemish Arts Centre De Brakke Grond
The Internet Archive: IICADOM Collection