The Phantom is Material

Archive außer sich

“How are they connected?” asks an FBI agent in Lizzie Borden’s feminist science fiction film Born in Flames (1983) while attempting to analyze the complex structure of an anti-racist women’s army. The film was part of the program of the research collective Übung am Phantom (Anke Kempkes/Eva Peters/Monika Rinck/Stefanie Schulte Strathaus), which participated in the group exhibition when tekkno turns to sound of poetry at the Shedhalle Zurich in 1994 and at KW – Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin in 1995. Initiated by Sabeth Buchmann and Juliane Rebentisch, both exhibitions were snapshots of a collective discourse on new technologies, feminism and (conceptual) art involving 40 women. In Zurich, Übung am Phantom built a cinema into the exhibition for 16mm screenings and for spoken word events and performances. In Berlin, the Arsenal cinema was used for this purpose. Like many feminist projects, wtttsop can hardly be found in the archives. For The Phantom is Material, the tekkno participants have reunited and a replica of the Phantom cinema is now becoming a site for new forms of archival practice: “The phantom is all there is – that is to say material.”

Archive außer sich is a project of Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art as part of The Whole Life. An Archive Project. In 2017, Arsenal invited partners to join in the collaborative series of research, event and exhibition projects whose contributions are presented here: The Harun Farocki Institute, SAVVY Contemporary, pong film, the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, silent green Film Feld Forschung and the master’s program Film Culture: Archiving, Programming, Presentation at Goethe University Frankfurt. Additional actors joined, including Médiatheque Onshore in Guinea-Bissau, Lagos Film Society, Cimatheque – Alternative Film Centre in Cairo and UMAM Documentation & Research in Beirut.