A Description for Colloqium organized around archives for the Berlinale (film forthcoming):
Communist, Museum, Palestine. Each of these terms has their specific histories, implied trajectories, and resultant dead-ends. What if anything can be salvaged or redeemed from the wreckage that each of these terms are associated with? Can their utopian or emancipatory potentials be reclaimed or reimagined beyond the colonial, imperial, and capitalist determinations they have been subjected to over the last few centuries?
The Communist Museum of Palestine is at once a speculative and practical assertion of a Yes! to this question. It is a proposal to destitute the model of museum in its current form by reclaiming a communist ethics and doing so through a real decolonial movement in Palestine.
In a colonized state, there are no central archives except those mandated or authorized by the colonial authority. There is no central caretaker. Instead, the responsibility falls upon the colonized to find other means to retain a link to the objects, creations, and stories which keep or kindle the fire of perseverance and resistance. Like the inhabitants of any colonized land, the records, creations and artifacts of the colonized always remain vulnerable – vulnerable to destruction, vulnerable to elimination and obliteration.
One way to understand a museum is as a kind of archive, a safe-house for vulnerable objects and their concomitant histories. But under the conditions of continued occupation, threat of eviction or outright devastation, the very idea of preservation and protection is put into question. And even the impulse to safeguard objects, under such conditions, when life itself is at its most precarious, must be rethought.
So rather than approach the question of communism as a determined historical event or decolonization as bound to reforming the existing institutional forms, Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri propose to develop with friends and interested collaborators over the coming years a real museum in Palestine, communizing, decolonizing, deterritorializing, deconstructing, decentering, and displacing the very sense and use of a museum as it exists today.
Collecting works gifted and produced by artists, hosting them within domestic or communal spaces of everyday people and everyday objects, the Communist Museum in Palestine is a possibility to imagine and invent an archive from the experience of colonization and through the historic and contemporary understanding of emancipatory struggle.
It is an investigation into the possibilities of having a decolonized and decentralized archive. One that is closer to everyday use and the hand-to-hand passing on of traditions and culture rather than sacralizing them. It begins by suggesting a kind of ‘sfumato’-ization of the walls separating creators, caretakers, objects of safekeeping or value and their respective spectators.
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