Archives of the Commons III

Non-appropriable Archives?

23, 24 and 25 September 2019 - (check programme)
Lucia Bianchi, Register of the Commons II, 2019. Digital Collage. Courtesy of Lucia Bianchi
Lucia Bianchi, Register of the Commons II, 2019. Digital Collage. Courtesy of Lucia Bianchi
Organized by
Museo Reina Sofía and the Red Conceptualismos del Sur (Southern Conceptualisms Network)

The third edition of the seminar Archives of the Commons, co-organised by the Red Conceptualismos del Sur (Southern Conceptualisms Network) and the Museo Reina Sofía, takes as its point of departure a question that seeks to operate as a concept: Is it possible to put in place an archive as non-appropriable? A non-appropriable archive requires collectivity; it requires our organisation, other possibilities. It urges us to create conditions for collective thinking, new forms of articulation – community, institutional, legal — in order for it to materialise. How can we look after and respond to something that doesn’t belong to us, and which is determined, in the strictest sense, by the logic of property, exclusivity and privatisation? How can we liberate those assets — documents, images and voices that inhabit archives — from an exclusive and excluding meaning and commercial value? How can we reaffirm a work ethic that acts as much from the acknowledgement of loss and the impossibility of reaching totality as from the politics of memory which, a far cry from monumentalisation and fetichisation, reverts to the past to once again vibrate in the present?

The aim of this edition of Archives of the Commons is to play a part in tracing feminist, queer, trans*, anti-racist and anti-fascist perspectives with which to approach archives that are at once transversal and geopolitically situated. Therefore, it sets forth a space of reflection to converse with actors from the field of art-politics archives, accommodating different focal points in order to reconstruct their complexities. The objective lies in jointly considering strategies to put forward a new economy and policy of care with regard to archives, enabling us to inhabit a sense of what is non-appropriable and thus go back to imagining and disputing the value of the commons.

Key work areas:

1. Political economy of archives

The pressures of the global market on art and politics archives demonstrate not only an archival shift in art collecting, but, in a broader sense, they show how archives are spaces of dispute in the meanings and heritage of the commons. By formulating the question on the public, the private and the commons from archives, we can delve deeper into the political and economic dimensions of the value production chain and the relationship of property in document archives. 

In the face of appropriation policies which work as the contemporary plundering of cultural heritage, and of institutional frailty and the progressive under-funding of public institutions, posing the following questions becomes inevitable: today, which places do art archives take up in terms of transnational financial economies? Which forms of circulation, accumulation and speculation are traced from and for them? Equally, which other archive economies open up as an alternative? Is it possible to propose a feminist economy of archives? How does care, or co-responsibility, or solidarity networks and community self-management burst through as other archive economies and policies?

There are a great many ways – sometimes in opposition — to approach art and politics archives, be it as artists, collectors, researchers, archivists, communities, institutions and mediating lawyers. From each of these positions, perspectives, experiences and situated dialogues are shaped on the ways of assessing, appropriating and conceiving the uses and also the powers of these archives in a present-day context.

2. Scales of circulation-intervention

In recent years, practices of art-politics archives rooted in the local and with an analogue relationship to documents have faced different forms of circulation and transaction in a transnational market. At the same time, legislation related to archives and cultural heritage varies from country to country, often hindering international actions to protect archives. Conversely, transnational marketing works more smoothly: while money has the capacity to cross borders easily, legal protection is more restrictive in scope.

Framed to this backdrop then, how do we design differentiating forms of economic, symbolic and political capital? That is to say, how do we intervene, redesign or propose devices for operating on different scales — global, continental, national, regional, local — and which allow us to effectively impact on the constitution of archives as commons, as non-appropriable, as opposed to the inflation of their value and privatisation?

3. Archive technologies, between materiality and immateriality

The development of technology has not only enabled documents to be reproduced, ensuring those which are materially damaged or visibly fragile to be conserved and consulted, it has also meant they are available online. Does this expansive process of making materials more visible, fostering social memory and research, not perhaps conceal certain drawbacks? What can we find and what remains submerged in the mass of information?

Some experiences have demonstrated that, occasionally, although large collections of delicate documents are released and declassified, they are not consulted. How can we ensure they reach their recipients? Should our aim be to make archives widely available? Is that possible, desirable, dangerous?

The dizzying speed at which devices develop and the potential of the virtual world can also be misleading and give the feeling that everything is just (or at least must be) a click away. Like that age-old archivist’s question about what is worthy of conservation and what doesn’t fulfil the necessary conditions, there is also a need to question what merits being digitalised. What do we put in the foreground and what do we leave in the shadows of materiality?

At the same time, for archivists, researchers and archive creators understanding and reflecting on the technology we use becomes necessary, even imperative. The history of security and back-up technologies (floppy discs, reel tapes, CD-ROMs, etc.) shows us that the ways to archive documents resulting from new technology are often ephemeral or quickly become obsolete, demanding more and more material and human resources to ensure security. The information explosion, and its exponential multiplication through reposts and retweets, has laid bare the dangers of disseminating certain textual and visual content (for instance archives of fundamentalist or racist movements, which could incite hatred) and the impossibility of managing their re-appropriation. As a result, reflecting on the strategies to strengthen the use of archives and the technological tools available in a critical sense becomes inevitable.


Matthijs de Bruijne is an artist. His artistic practices are tied to his political involvement and, in recent years, in collaborations with unions and other labour organisations. In 2010 he was invited by the Dutch Union of Cleaners to work as an artist, helping this workers’ organisation to visualise their message clearly and to strenghten their identity as part of the working class in the Netherlands. Since 2019, he has been creating an archive of this Union that will become part of the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam.

Fernanda Carvajal is a sociologist with an MA in Communications and a PhD in Social Sciences from the University of Buenos Aires. She is currently a post-doctoral researcher at IIGG-CONICET. Her specialisation intersects art, sexuality and politics in the Southern Cone from the 1970s onwards, and in 2009 she joined the Red Conceptualismos del Sur. She is part of the curatorship team of Losing the Human Form. A Seismic Image of the 1980s in Latin America (Madrid 2012, Lima 2014, Buenos Aires 2014), and belongs to the group Micropolíticas de la desobediencia sexual en el arte and works with Alejandro de la Fuente in putting together Archivo Yeguas del Apocalipsis

Abertura Vaginal Collective is made up of artists Adriana F. Luque and Eva F. Luque. Since 2011, they have worked on the audiovisual documentation of the feminist movement in Spain, focusing on the political activity of independent (trans)feminist collectives from different places across the country. This “Archive Under Construction” explores the complex identity of the feminist movement, depleted by a censored memory and a media-imposed imaginary.

Moira Cristiá is a professor of History at the National University of Rosario, and holds an MA and PhD in History and Civilisations from l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. She also works as a CONICET researcher in the Gino Germani Research Institute (University of Buenos Aires), where she is part of the Study Group on Art, Culture and Politics in Recent Argentinian History. She is a member of the Red Conceptualismos del Sur and currently coordinates its archive node.

Archivos Comunes is a project in which different people linked to social centres or citizen management spaces in Madrid participate, seeking to reflect the diversity of experiences around the community self-management of space and territory that has emerged in the city over the past few decades.

Luis Elorriaga is an artist, actor and activist. He participates with different self-managed collectives, for instance La Ternura and Esta es una plaza, and is part of the Network of Archives of Independent Spaces in Madrid Since the 1980s.

Lurdes Fernández is a mediator and cultural promotor who has developed two self-managed projects in Madrid to visualise and research contemporary reality: Garage Pemasa and Off Limits. She is part of the Network of Archives of Independent Spaces in Madrid Since the 1980s.

Alessandro Gagliardo is a film-maker and archivist. In 2005 he founded Malastradafilm, and since 2014 has developed the project, installing a network of independent servers in Italy. He is currently directing the film Gli ultimi giorni dell’umanità, assembled from the personal archive of critic and thinker Enrico Ghezzi.

Ingrid Guardiola is a lecturer, film-maker, essayist and cultural producer. She holds a PhD in Humanities from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) and has lectured in a number of Catalonia universities, where she has also conducted research on subjects related to gender, inequality and technology, inside the framework of culture and audiovisual practice. Within this sphere, she is involved in developing the project La dimensión poco conocida: pioneras del cine, which aims to research and disseminate the history of women film-makers.

Sol Henaro is a researcher and curator. She has curated exhibitions in the Museo de Arte Moderno (Mexico City) and Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC, Mexico City), among others. Since 2010 she has been part of the Red Conceptualismos del Sur, and from 2011 to the middle of 2015 she curated the art archive at MUAC, where she currently works as curator of Documentary Archive and is in charge of the Arkheia Documentation Centre.

Vladan Joler is an artist and activist. He is director of the Share Foundation and a professor at the Novi Sad University, in Serbia. He is leading SHARE Lab, a research and data investigation lab for exploring different technical and social aspects of algorithmic transparency, digital labour exploitation, invisible infrastructures, black boxes, and many other contemporary phenomena on the intersection between technology and society.

Kristine Khouri is a researcher and independent curator who lives in Beirut, Lebanon. Her research focuses on the history of the circulation and infrastructure of arts in the Arab world, and on practices of archive and dissemination.

Magda Lipska is a curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. She studied Cultural Sciences at the University of Warsaw and Humboldt University in Berlin, and Contemporary Art Theory at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Her recent curatorial projects include: Hope is of a Different Colour (2019, forthcoming), Niepodległe: Women, Independence and National Discourse (2018), Danwen Xing. A Personal Diary (2017), Lest the Two Seas Meet (2015). She is also a cofounder, together with Annett Busch and Marie-Hélène Gutberlet, of “Women on Aeroplanes”, a research platform tracing the political and artistic under-representation of women in the African liberation movements.

Javiera Manzi is a sociologist and archivist at the University of Chile, and an independent researcher, curator, teacher and feminist activist. Her research specialises in subjects that intersect art and politics and memory and visual culture from social movements. She is currently researching the exiled muralist brigades and is putting together a book on female cultural coordinators in 1970s and 1980s Chile.

Network of Archives of Independent Spaces in Madrid Since the 1980s is a collective initiative developed over the past two years by a group of artists, activists and researchers, with the support of the Museo Reina Sofía Documentation Centre and Intermediae (Matadero Madrid). It sets out to associate different archives, conserving them and making them available for public consultation, in addition to promoting research policies and common activations around the independent scene of artistic production in Madrid from the 1980s to the present day.

Clemente Padín is a poet, artist, graphic designer, performer, video, multimedia and net artist, theorist and teacher. Since the mid-1960s, he has worked intensively to produce and promote experimental art in all its facets, most notably as a visual poet and performer. His archive is part of the General Archive of UDELAR, Montevideo (Uruguay), and is available to researchers and students.

Pantxo Ramas is a researcher and activist. His research focuses on the relationship between society and governance, specifically on the institutional role of social movements and the rise of critical practices in public institutions, and the fields of healthcare, care, culture and the arts. He is a member of the research collective Entrar Afuera, from which he has researched institutional transformations in the city of Trieste.

Flavia Rando is an art historian and a member of the Lesbian Herstory Archives, New York. She has taught Gender and LGTBIQ Studies for over 25 years in different universities, including Brooklyn College. Rando is a long-time lesbian activist who was part of Radicalesbians and the Gay Liberation Front. In 2011 she was one of the founders of the Lesbian Studies Institute, where she has worked as a professor ever since.

Judith Revel is a philosopher, Italianist and translator. She is a specialist in Michel Foucault and contemporary political philosophy and has directed the research project Discipliner l’Archive? (2016–2018), in collaboration with the programme LabEx: Les passés dans le Présent.

Philip Rizk is an artist and film-maker who read Philosophy and Anthropology. He is a member of the activist collective Mosireen, which surfaced to document and communicate images from the Egyptian revolution in 2011. Between 2011 and 2014, the group produced and published over 250 videos online, focusing on street politics, state violence and labour rights.

Sezin Romi is the Senior Librarian and Archivist at SALT (Istanbul and Ankara,Turkey). She has worked on and managed several archive and research projects including artist archives, exhibition archives, institution and biennial archives at SALT Research, which comprises a specialized library and an archive of physical and digital sources and documents on visual practices, the built environment, social life and economic history. She was also involved in the research and visualization of SALT’s research projects It was a time of conversation (2012-2013), From England with Love, İsmail Saray (2014-2015) and Idealist School, Productive Studio (2018-2019) exhibitions. Having collaborated in the research processes of SALT’s various e-publications, Romi is the co-editor of İsmail Saray (2018) publication.

Ana Sánchez is a researcher. From a perspective of militant commitment, she traces political experiences, reflecting on the current forms of resistance to neoliberalism, creation and the mix of open languages, spaces and plots for the commons. Her political and personal interests are linked to urban resistance, experiences of self-organisation, self-management and social economy, in addition to feminist struggles and gazes. Her political experience is primarily rooted in struggles over the past two decades in Madrid's Lavapiés neighbourhood, and she is currently conducting research into the memory of the Centro Social El Laboratorio, a self-managed project which took place in Lavapiés from 1997 to 2003.

Carolina Santamarina is Responsible of the Digital Library project at the Museo Reina Sofía and is a member of the Archive, Library and Museum Assistants State Service. She previously worked in the Archivo Histórico Nacional, where she was part of the Digital Library project.

Luiz Augusto Teixeira de Freitas is a lawyer, contemporary art collector and founding member of the lawyer group Teixeira de Freitas, Rodrigues e Associados. Over the past two decades he has formed, with his wife Maria Beatriz Quintella (who passed away in 2013), an extensive collection that is disseminated through exhibitions and loans to institutions.

Joaquín Vázquez is a cultural producer and the founder, in 1988, with artist Miguel Benlloch, of BNV Producciones. In the 1970s and 1980s, he was a member of the Communist Movement and a proponent of the creation of the Homosexual Liberation Front of Andalusia (FLHA). From 2001 to 2015, he coordinated and produced the programme UNIA arteypensamiento at the University of Andalusia, and in 2006 he was involved in forming the Platform of Reflection on Cultural Policies (PRPC). He currently coordinates, along with Mar Villaespesa, the Miguel Benlloch Archive.

Daniel Villegas is a professor, researcher at the School of Architecture, Engineering and Design from Madrid’s Universidad Europea and artist. He has worked in the collective Fast Food and collaborates on the project ABM Confecciones. He is also a member of the Network of Archives of Independent Spaces in Madrid Since the 1980s.

Lana Zdravković is researcher, publicist, political activist, producer and performer (not necessarily in that order). She has a PhD in philosophy and graduated in comparative literature and sociology of culture. In her work she nurtures synergies between theoretical, activist and artistic approach to research of: politics of emancipation, thought-practice of the militant subject, radical equality, political/engaged/critical art.


Actividad pasada Sabatini Building, Auditorium
Monday, 23 September 2019

6pm - 7pm

Archives of the Commons II. The Anomic Archive
(In Spanish, with simultaneous interpretation in French and English)

Presentation and discussion on the lines of reflection during the second edition of the seminar, held in 2017, and the challenges for the present edition. Conducted by Fernanda Carvajal (Red Conceptualismos del Sur) and Mabel Tapia (Museo Reina Sofía). 

7pm - 8pm

Making Common History: For Non-Proprietary Conservation, Transmission and Valuation
(In French, with simultaneous interpretation in Spanish and English)

Inaugural lecture by Judith Revel

Actividad pasada Session 1: Sabatini Building, Auditorium / Session 2 and 3: Nouvel Building, Protocol Room
Tuesday, 24 September 2019
All sessions include simultaneous interpretation between Spanish and English

10am - 10:30am

Presentation of the sessions for Archives of the Commons III, conducted by Fernanda Carvajal, Moira Cristiá and Javiera Manzi (Red Conceptualismos del Sur) and Sara Buraya and Mabel Tapia (Museo Reina Sofía).

Session 1. Archive Technologies

10:30am - 12pm

Debates on Access. The Construction of the Commons Between Materiality and Immateriality

Participants: Vladan Joler and Alessandro Gagliardo
Coordinated by: Fernanda Carvajal (Red Conceptualismos del Sur)

12pm - 12:15pm


12:15 - 13:45 h

Debates on Access. Archives as a Tool for Accessing History

Participants: Ana Sánchez Llorca (El Laboratorio collectives) and Matthijs de Bruijne
Coordinated by: Moira Cristiá (Red Conceptualismos del Sur)

Session 2. Political Economy of Archives

3pm - 4:30pm

Beyond the Economy of Care. How Do We Consider a Feminist, Queer, Punk, Trans*… Economy of Archives? 

Participants: Joaquín Vázquez (Miguel Benlloch Archive, Seville) and Flavia Rando (Lesbian Herstory Archives, New York)
Coordinated by: Sara Buraya (Museo Reina Sofía)

4:30pm - 6pm

The Institution and the Construction of Archives’ Value  

Participants: Carolina Santamarina (Museo Reina Sofía), Magda Lipska (Artist Archives of Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, Varsovia), Sezin Romi (SALT, Istanbul)
Coordinated by: Mabel Tapia (Museo Reina Sofía)

6pm - 6:15pm


Session 3. Archives Under Construction I

6:15pm - 7pm

Archives Under Construction

Participants: Archivos Comunes, Abertura Vaginal
Coordinated by: Moira Cristiá (Red Conceptualismos del Sur)

7pm - 8pm

Inappropiable Trayectories: Conversation about the Case of Archivo CADA.

Presentation by Red Conceptualismos del Sur

Actividad pasada Nouvel Building, Protocol Room
Wednesday, 25 September 2019
All sessions include simultaneous interpretation between Spanish and English

Session 1. Political Economy of Archives II pm

10:30 - 12pm

Artists’ Gazes Before the Economy of Archives

Participants: Clemente Padín (Red Conceptualismos del Sur), Philip Rizk
Coordinated by: Javiera Manzi (Red Conceptualismos del Sur)

12pm - 12:15pm


12:15pm - 1:45pm

Archive Between the Collection and its Re-appropriation

Participants: Ingrid Guardiola and Luiz Augusto Teixeira de Freitas
Coordinated by: Mabel Tapia (Museo Reina Sofía)

Session 2. Scales of Circulation-Intervention

3pm - 4:30pm

Strategies to Impact on the Construction of Archives of the Commons

Participants: Lana Zdravković (City of Women, Ljubljana), and Fernanda Carvajal, Moira Cristiá and Javiera Manzi (Red Conceptualismos del Sur)
Coordinated by: Sara Buraya (Museo Reina Sofía)

4:30pm - 6pm

Decentralised Solidarity Networks

Participants: Kristine Khouri and Sol Henaro
Coordinated by: Javiera Manzi (Red Conceptualismos del Sur)

Session 3. Archives Under Construction II

6:15pm - 7pm

Archives Under Construction

Participants: Pantxo Ramas (Archivio Ospedale Psichiatrico Provinciale San Giovanni, Trieste) and Luis Elorriaga, Lurdes Fernández, and Daniel Villegas (Network of Archives of Independent Spaces in Madrid Since the 1980s)
Coordinated by: Sara Buraya (Museo Reina Sofía)

7pm - 9pm

Presentation of the manifesto Call for a Common policy on Archives,launched by Red Conceptualismos del Sur, for which it is calling for the allegiances of other collectives and initiatives.

Conclusions and closing out the encounter