Theo Barth “Depositions”
A private archive in the context of an archive & an art school
A deposition is a witness’ sworn out-of-court testimony. It is also the process of conveying a material to an archive. I propose to use this double entry as way to account for a collaborative venture between KHiO design and the National Library, through a research effort combining the human resources from both institutions. The core material of the project is a private archive. The collaborative partners are: Jan Pettersson and Enrique Guadarrama Solis at KHiO; Arthur Tennøe and Harald Østgaard Lund at the National Library. At KHiO I have entered an apprenticeship in photogravure, while the work at the National Library is organised as a research residency.
The work with photogravure features the aspect of deposition that stands to witness: working with photos from the private archive. While the work with the written material in the private archive explores how these materials can be accommodated into the archives by developing adequate rules of access: a meeting point between the general guidelines of the archive, and the case-based propaedeutic particular to this collection, worked out through the research, and its arenas at the two institutions. The testimonial- and the archival depositions will then be combined, exploring dramaturgical designs accommodating mark-making in the space of improvisation.
Here it is the ‘vectorial sum’ of deposition in the joint testimonial and archival sense will be queried. As an archive, the National Library is a public institution: but the materials in in its keep are not public in the sense of being of unrestricted access to anyone. At KHiO our sharing of work-in-progress might be in some aspects similar. We may ask: how do we work with norms and forms of display that are not based on full access—that is of selective access—that yet are proposed as public matter (res publica). More broadly, what are the designs that can hatch and frame the kind of interaction where it is the body that speaks, inviting contact improvisation.
The presentation will seek to invite a discussion—based on a method of question responding to question—assisted by a lineup of some of the materials generated from the work with the private archive mentioned above: the joint action of mark making and contact improvisation as modes the conjoint work of testimony and archiving. Negotiating a space between a personal and scientific project. Description of the material: 71 handwritten diaries, a book in outline, a collection of photographs and letters from a husband and wife team in the Norwegian Foreign Services. The session would be supported by a semi-open space as the presentation area in the KHiO library.”