In the process of transferring analog material to digital data banks, small independent archives are often not able to keep up with bigger, economically driven archives, such as stock-image companies.
Notes on Archives 2: Culture Is Our Business considers the case of Willy Römer, who in 1919 took a photograph of the street battles in the media district of Berlin during the German Revolution. Circulating widely throughout the twentieth century, Römer’s photograph in 2004 came to be owned simultaneously by a number of archives. Among them were the commercial stock-image agency Corbis, founded by Bill Gates, and the Agentur für Bilder zur Zeitgeschichte (Agency for images on contemporary history), an independent organization established by photo historian Diethart Kerbs. Both Corbis and Kerbs’s agency handle and make available the same image based on extremely different concepts and working processes. The book considers the complex issues around these two 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. This publication includes material from the artwork “Culture Is Our Business” by Ines Schaber along with a conversation with Diethart Kerbs and a text by Reinhard Braun.
Ines Schaber is a visual artist based in Berlin and Los Angeles. For fifteen years, she has worked on the notion of the archive through which she has examined a set of questions underlying archival photographic practices. The projects, case studies, writings, and artistic works she has produced in relation to these questions seek to trace new or alternate archival practices. Another publication that is part of this field of interest was a collaboration with the sociologist Avery Gordon titled The Workhouse (Breitenau Room) (2014), produced as part of documenta 13. Since 2014, she teaches at the California Institute of the Arts, in the School of Art, Program of Photography and Media.
Notes on Archives 2
Culture Is Our Business
Published by Archive Books
and Camera Austria Graz
Edited by Ines Schaber
Contributions by Reinhard Braun and Ines Schaber and a conversation with Diethart Kerbs
Design by form und sinn
Softcover, English, 44 pages
Notes on Archives 1–5
Notes on Archives is a series of publications by artist Ines Schaber about archives and the practices we conduct in relation to them. Produced over the course of more than ten years, the publications feature a series of case studies, research, concrete projects, and reflections on the questions and problems that image archives pose today. The aim of the work is not to find or create another institutional archive per se, but to develop a practice in which the set of problems that archives produce is in fact part of the process one engages in.
The artist understands the archive as a place of negotiation and writing. “There is no political power without control of the archive, if not of memory. Effective democratization can always be measured by this essential criterion: the participation in and the access to the archive, its constitution, and its interpretation,” writes Jacques Derrida.