Reactivating the Unheard Avant-garde Practices of POEX 65
What is an unheard avant-garde? Of course, the answer may be tautological: no one has ever heard of the unheard avant-garde, as it were. However, rumors and academic intuition has it that the archives are full of unheard stuff. And as everyone working with archives may tell you: the greatest thrill is when you find something unexpected, something you did not know was there and may not even know what is until further inspection. The existence of ‘unheard’ material in archives is a fundamental latency that points towards a discussion of the ontological status of the archive in the 21st century. As it has been pointed out in resent research, the archive has become a buzzword in recent years (Elliasson, 2009). The archive, in this view, is the stage for new combinations of art, life and politics. Thus a conceptual reworking is taking place – most recently explained theoretically as the interference of two paradigms; the first paradigm of transformation is emerging from computer technology as well as digital recording, storing and distribution have transformed the function, form and content matter of archives. Secondly, the discovery (by the humanities) of the archives of ‘evil’ – i.e. the archives of the Gestapo during the II world war, or archives in the hands of any dictator or regime that wishes to control its citizens - is regarded as a historical turning point. After this discovery, questions of technologies and politics of the archive have become immanent in the theoretical discussions of the humanities. From early on, the art stage has been sensitive to this transformation – which, according to Elliasson, has been echoed in research within the humanities. Archives play a large part of the construction that is the human being – it is the stage of collective unconscious. However, if we accept this position as being as close to the current state of affairs at this point in time as may be achieved (and I think it is), then we still need to ask ourselves: what happened to the archive-material that did not ‘fit’ the technologies and politics of the archive? If and when the transformation of the archive occur what, then, will happen to that material… how do we ‘re-discover’ it, as it were? Finally, these questions points towards the fundamental question: is it true, as Elliasson would have it, that the humanities were able to change in order to ‘echo’ the transformation in the archives as well as in the arts? (Elliasson, 2009) The existence of ‘unheard’ material in the staging of our collective unconscious suggests otherwise. It suggests that the material in the archives that did not ‘fit’ the construction of that unconscious, ‘dissapeared’ – or became ‘non-distinct’ (not even a ‘famous’ fossilization was allowed). If we look strictly at art in the archives, it becomes even more evident that the humanities or any other scientifically identifiable group has not recovered the ‘misfits’ from earlier paradigms to this day. They remain ‘unheard’, as it were. So, I will claim that the humanities have not been able to close the gap between the different paradigmatic ‘regimes’ defining the archival practice in the process of transformation. The ‘unheard’ not only witnesses this on an empirical level; it points, I would claim, towards an ontological gap between archival practices and the theoretical scope of the humanities within the last 30 years. And it points towards a transdisciplinary ‘solution’ of the problem.