HAUNTINGS IN THE ARCHIVE! is a film and research project by SKGAL which deals critically with the hi/herstory/ies and archive of the Austrian Association of Women Artists (VBKÖ).
SKGAL is a working group of the VBKÖ, an institution that was founded in 1910 as one of the first organizations in Europe that represented the interests of women artists. While the feminist origins of the association provide an impressive and important point of reference – and this includes contemporary perspectives – the hi/herstory/ies of the association are ambivalent: In 1938 the VBKÖ committed to cooperation with the National Socialist regime. Furthermore, over the several decades following 1945, it did not break away from its everyday routines and personnel which stemmed from National Socialist period. A radical change in the direction of the subject matter and content finally took place in the late 1990s through a clear generational shift of the VBKÖ’s board. Hand-in-hand with the new direction, the VBKÖ established its archive in 2004 and began its involvement in the contemporary feminist art context of Vienna.
In this context, SKGAL asks how hi/herstory/ies can/could be written in a self-organized women’s artist association. Moreover, how can an association which now fosters contemporary feminist artistic agendas establish a vital connection between historical debates and contemporary queer, feminist art productions? And how can it do so with artistic means?
Through the performative screenings, HAUNTINGS IN THE ARCHIVE!, SKGAL invites you to follow the ghosts of the VBKÖ, and to join them in reconsidering the material in the archive of the association in order to challenge it through debates and interpretations. For this project SKGAL will appropriate historical images and textual material from the archive, it will indicate gaps, reclassify material, and bring about a variety of connections. In the project, ghosts haunt places, voices and images, and they show strategies as well as the power of hi/herstory/ies. Along with the ghosts, SKGAL aims to contradict the unequivocal consolidations of history and will thereby attempt to update the hi/herstory/ies in the archive in order to shift views on its material. This way it is possible for the archivist Sabine Harik, who compiled the archive of the VBKÖ, the philosophers Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, the feminist artists network INTAKT, the art historian Julie M. Johnson, the cultural scientist Kate Eichhorn and the artist VALIE EXPORT to come together in order to challenge the hi/herstory/ies of an old association for women artists!
On July 5, 6, 8 and 12, 2016 SKGAL presented HAUNTINGS IN THE ARCHIVE! at Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen in Innsbruck, FÜNFZIGZWANZIG in Salzburg, [esc] medien kunst labor in Graz and das weissen haus in Vienna, respectively.