In recent decades, the art world’s interest in archives has increased steadily, developing into a true “compulsion to archive.” In her text, Suely Rolnik describes the root of this tendency, which is especially geared to Conceptual art of the 1960s and 1970s. The author pays particular attention to the countries of Latin America that were periodically under military dictatorships, and on which archive mania has focused to a great extent. She sees one explanation for this in “unconscious colonial repression,” which, like the dictatorial regimes in these countries, has left behind a far-reaching trauma and led to a split between the poetic and the political, widened through the misunderstandings of “official” art history, which one-sidedly interprets the artistic practices that are found there in terms of a “political” or “ideological” Conceptual art. Against this background erupts the will to turn toward the archives anew and reactivate the fusion of poetic and political forces.
Psychoanalyst, curator, cultural critic, and writer, Suely Rolnik is a professor at the Catholic University of São Paulo and at MACBA, Barcelona.