12th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art

Artist Talk: Jihan El-Tahri, The School of Mutants, and Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn. Moderation: Marie Helene Pereira. Deinstitutionalizing the Archive. On History vs Memory

Artist talk held within the framework of the conference From Restitution to Repair on September 11, 2022 at Akademie der Künste, Hanseatenweg, Berlin.

From their propositions in the exhibition of the 12th Berlin Biennale titled Still Present!, the artists Jihan El-Tahri, Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn, and The School of Mutants have been working on an effective disruption of the material archive—putting forward the need to investigate and engage in unearthing the “archives of the people,” which, in this instance, could be translated as collective memory. El-Tahri challenges the access to archives and the way in which it constitutes a currency in postcolonial contexts, while Nguyễn focuses his work and research on the creation of forms of narration that open up spaces for conversation and self-narration of untold, or rather erased, stories. The idea of mutations put forward by The School of Mutants invites us to rethink different forms of imperialism, including the one embedded in the set understanding of what constitutes archives and archiving. This talk will detail how restitution debates today should move toward reflection on access to archives and their material sustainability, and how there is a need to reinvent the language of the archive, through different ecologies of memory. The ultimate question in this context is: To what extent do we engage with imminent and effective acts of repair?

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