Transient Witness – A Conversation

Stefan Aue Assaf Gruber Marcelo Rezende
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Assaf Gruber’s film Transient Witness traces the transformation of a private collection into a public archive and the questions that this change raises. It refers to the donation of the collection of Egidio Marzona to the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD), where the former collection is now known as Archiv der Avantgarden (AdA). Transient Witness has been developed and realized in the frame of The Whole Life: An Archive Project. The film explores the common features and necessary distinctions between art collections, archives, as well as the various materials and cultural substrata that enable their existence. It does so by narrating a fictional story of the transfer of the objects from the private house of collector Egidio Marzona in Berlin to their new domicile – the Japanisches Palais, a Rococo building part of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden – through the eyes of three main characters: Christina, the manager of the collection; Maurizio, the art mover who comes to collect the works; and Präsens, the collector’s dog. In the course of the plot, the boundaries of the real and the fictional become blurred. In this conversation Stefan Aue, Assaf Gruber, and Marcelo Rezende talk about the concept of the film and how the objects involved are telling a parallel story in the setting of this cinematic format.

Connected Material

Schaber’s contribution revisits her 2004 work culture is our business and considers the complex issues around these three agencies. At stake in these differences are how the image’s story should be told, and how this telling is embedded in the viewing and understanding of history.

An aural and visual essay that overlays several journeys, a sensory one that attempts to evoke a perceived time, place or geography through the mapping of territories, and a narrative one materialized as a speculative epistolary correspondence between the present and the future that continuously summons the past.

Archives are often perceived as somewhat static. They look back, they conserve, they remember. But the thinking that was present in the pieces of the Pinkus Archive all addressed ecology, extinction, and political agency in ways that not only extend into our present, but into our future.

Chto Delat’s installation Canary Archives employs the imagery of the canary in the coal mine, once used to alarm miners when carbon monoxide levels rose. Where is the canary today, that tells us wether the danger is real? It seems to have gone silent, the sharpest signal it can send. In an emergency newspaper issue under the impression of the Russian war on Ukraine, Chto Delat assembles anti-war views of artists and critics and expresses their solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

This video interweaves the mobility of defiance against national-colonial borders and the collection of gossips by Southeast Asian migrants in Berlin.

The video explores the encounter (digital and analogue) between the body and the archive.

Scanning the Horizon works with and towards the seemingly unattainable, yet powerfully generative utopian demands of queer life set out on the horizon.

The Perverted Archival Image workshop centered on and tentacled off from Studio Baalbeck. The workshop participants created an audio montage of recordings to accompany some of the visual archive material.

What does it mean to do archival research in embodied ways? Where is ‘the archive’ located in such an approach? And how might the open form of ‘the score’—a provisional map, a musical or performance score, a speculative cartography, an image atlas, a set of instructions—offer possibilities for articulating and transmitting the knowledge of elusive archives?