Book cover photo (detail): Francesc Abad, Camp de la Bota, 2004 (Courtesy of the artist)

Art and Archive, 1920-2010.
Genealogies, typologies and discontinuities

Anna Maria Guasch
September 2011
Akal / Arte Contemporáneo
ISBN: 978-84-460-2539-9
Read the First Chapter →

Preface and Acknowledgements

The first intention of this book was to use case study analyses to theoretically approach the relationship between art and the archive along the 20th Century and early years of the 21st Century. However, due to the topic’s level of complexity and the impossibility of systematizing it in a pure theoretical approach, it has been transformed –following Foucault’s line of thought– into an archaeological and genealogical history of one of the least explored episodes in its entirety (although many specific articles have been published on the matter), of 20-21st century art: the sporadically lineal but usually discontinuous, paradoxical and counter-discursive relationship between art and the archive.

The idea, or more accurately, the need to pose the problem, was born out of the debates derived from the doctorate course I gave at the University of Barcelona in 2002-2003 and the summer course given at the Complutense University of El Escorial in 2004. It was further developed during different research residencies as a scholar at the Getty Research Institute of Los Angeles in 2003, as a visiting professor at Columbia University in New York during 2005 and 2006, and especially as a researcher at the Getty Research Institute in 2007 and 2008. In that last year and invited by Mariano de Santa Ana and Fernando Estévez, I had the opportunity, along with other colleagues, to propose the relationships between art and the archive at the seminar The archive’s memories and oblivions held at the Atlantic Centre of Modern Art in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria [1]. This book’s final draft was possible thanks to a new residency program at the Getty Research Institute of Los Angeles in 2009 funded by the research grant «Salvador de Madariaga» awarded by the Ministry of Science and Education.

In Materia.Revista d´Art, a journal issued by the University of Barcelona’s Art History Department, I published, in 2005, my thoughts on the matter for the first time [2]. Four years later, Siruela editorial published the book Autobiografías visuales. Del archivo al índice, included in the Azul Minima collection directed by the professor Juan Antonio Ramírez. In it, I presented –in an autobiographical conceptual framework– On Kawara´s and Hanne Darboven´s contributions to the notion of the archive in artistic practices.

In my current book´s research process developed since 2002 until 2009, I had the opportunity to present the project, receive support, hold enlightening debates, and gather important documentary material from Thomas Crow and Thomas Gaehtgens (directors of the Getty Research Institute), Benjamin Buchloh, Hal Foster, Charles Merewether, Serge Guilbaut, Juan José Lahuerta, Jorge Blasco and Mariano de Santa Ana.

On another note, I also want thank Alex Bauzà and particularly Erini Grigoriadau for all their help and further highlight my fructiferous relationship with Andrea Giunta, professor of Latin-American Art at the University of Texas at Austin, with whom I participated at the 2nd Latin-American International Forum for Emerging Scholars revolving around the theme Art-Archives: Latin-America and other beyond (October 2010), a collaboration between the University of Texas, the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the University of Barcelona. Last but not least, I want to mention my involvement with two international research groups working on the archive subject: The Contemporary Art and the Archive Research Group (CARGO), an independent association of artists, writers and curators based at the Faculty of Art and Design of Monash University in Melbourne (Australia), and the research groups related to the digital archive MAP–Media Art Platform, linked to the Museum of Contemporary Art of Roskilde in Denmark, and Beyond the Archive: Bit Mapping, conducted by Wolfgang Ernst, media theorist and professor at Humboldt University in Berlin, for whom, sustaining an archaeological perspective of the media, cyberspace is more interested on bits than on images, sounds or texts.

It may seem obvious and even inappropriate to state that art can not exist without artists or art history without art. Notwithstanding, I want to highlight how enriching it was for me to share a complicity and knowledge with Antoni Muntadas, Pedro G. Romero, Ignasi Aballí, Francesc Abad, Daniel García Andújar, Montserrat Soto and Isidoro Valcárcel Medina. In a book involving issues of hypertrophic memory and registry, we are fortunate when the software repositories are vital and accessible loci.

Finally, I must thank Jesús Espino, editor in chief of Akal Publishing House, for his efforts and care in the book’s publication, Joan Sureda for his constant support and blind faith in my work, and Ramón Akal, director of Akal, for repeatedly demonstrating his trust on my intellectual production, and for his generosity and constant support in my role as editor of the Akal/Contemporary Art collection.

Anna Maria Guasch | Barcelona, December 22, 2010




1 See Fernando Estévez González and Mariano de Santa Ana (eds.), Memorias y olvidos del archivo. Madrid / Las Palmas de Gran Canaria / Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Lampreave / Atlantic Centre of Modern Art /Museum of History and Anthropology of Tenerife (press).

2 Anna Maria Guasch, «Los lugares de la memoria: el arte de archivar y recordar», Materia. Revista d’ Art 5 (2005), pp. 157-183.