Reading the archive against the grain: Power relations, affective affinities and subjectivity in the documenta Archive

Texts — 2020

This article, published in the Arts Library Journal, is based on a lecture that I held in October 2018 at Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, in the context of the event series “Documentos”.

In this text, I propose a reading of the documenta Archive “against the grain,” that is, without trying to locate historically relevant information for art, but rather in search of traces of subjective biases in its structure, and emotional content in its records.

The aim of this exercise is to examine the subjective nuances revealed by the structure of this particular archive. Every archive retains these nuances even if they are not intentionally recorded, and quite often, it is precisely these nuances that allow us to catch a glimpse of the intellectual construction that holds it, which would otherwise be hidden.