Artistic Archival Research. Ein methodisches Statement

There are three main ingredients to my research work—no matter if it is
artistic and/or scientific (die Trennung ist für mich sowieso künstlich,
research to me is a creative matter anyways), no matter if archives are
involved or not, no matter if I research for WIENWOCHE, my research
projects or my arts and cultural production projects …

  • Intuition
  • Trial and error
  • „Das Material sprechen lassen“

As soon as I start any research project, I always start a research jour­ nal. It is private, it is for me alone. I write anything into it—if I am sick, if I do not want to work, if I made an especially groundbreaking discov­ ery, if I had a very funny idea, or if I have to start all over again … In the approx. last 10 years I am using this research tool, I developed specific codes for questions, ideas, to do’s etc., and I use them frequently.

So, I go to the WIENWOCHE archive—und nehme die Atmosphäre in mich auf: den Weg zum Archiv, die Suche der Adresse, die Umge­ bung des Archivs … wie es mir geht, was ich fühle, was ich so erlebe am Weg zum Archiv … die Türe, den Vorraum, die Zimmer im Archiv, welchen Platz hat das Archiv in den Büroräumen, wie ist das Archiv geordnet, wo ist mein Arbeitsplatz, muss jemand dafür weichen oder nicht … wie andere auf mich zugehen oder nicht, was das mit mir macht … ich bin ein Beobachter, wenn ich forsche.

What I do first at an archive is: das Material sprechen lassen. Ich setze mich auf meinen Arbeitsplatz, hole nach und nach die Boxen aus dem WIENWOCHE­Archiv, öffne sie und lasse mich inspirieren, ich finde Hochglanz­ und DIY­Produkte, meine Finger werden staubig, ich trinke Kaffee und Wasser. Es ist heiß, aber das Archiv ist es nicht so sehr – ein Glück! Ich lese die Forderungen, die Aussagen, die Beschreibungen, ich spüre Papier, Plastik und Stoff auf meiner Haut … und mache Fotos, Handyfotos passen am besten, finde ich. Die fürs booklet zu Collagen transformiert werden.

I am also working with the digital archive of WIENWOCHE, von zu Hause aus, reading all the names of the artists and ac­ tivists, collective and single person projects, the projects and their descriptions, the topics and ideas of the curators for each year, since 2012, and memories are coming to my mind … nice memories of a friend inviting us to their WIENWOCHE exhibi­ tion project on a hot summer day in the streets of Vienna, mem­ ories of collectives and artists I have known for quite a long time and remembering if I do or do not love their work, reading names of activists I have always wanted to meet, etc.

Trial and error is kind of the method; it is haunting me, it is celebrating my ideas, it is what I think research is about, prinzipiell …. It means to start with something and not fin­ ishing it (like the wordles I experimented with) or ending up with another thing (like starting with Forderungen and ending up with the questions that were raised in all 9 editions of the WIENWOCHE festivals) … because it does not feel good, my intuition is not into it … it also means following an idea, liking it, trusting my guts, even if it seems unorthodox—I am called an Autodidakt in the art’s world anyways (what an elitist/ classist concept, btw). Sometimes I end up collecting the names of the artists and activists, curators, the printing mat­ters, the interventions, measuring the quantity of 9 editions of WIENWOCHE festivals, which then turn into infographics. And most of the time I am rewarded with a satisfying product, oder ich fange nochmal von vorne an, gehe wieder ins Archiv, sauge die Atmosphäre auf, lasse mich (wieder neu) verführen in diese Archivwelt … und entdecke Neues, das Gleiche, Anderes …

So, artistic archival research to me is about ups and downs, trial and error, it is an intuitive journey through some­ body else’s body of work, adding my fingerprints to it, eventual­ ly slightly changing the order—not deliberately, though. It is an emotional journey, and also an attempt to transfer my impres­ sions to the worlds and ideas of others, as I try with this short statement about my methods in general and my experience with the WIENWOCHE archive.

by Persson Perry Baumgartinger, Trans-Art & Cultural Production

(in WIENWOCHE is 10; ed. by Persson Perry Baumgartinger & Nataša Mackuljak)