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The collaborative workshop “Touching the Archive” initiates a dialogue with archive practitioners and artists to delve into the tactile and multifaceted aspects of archival materials.

Touching the Archive

A two-day workshop in collaboration with the Schwules Museum Berlin (SMU) and Neun Kelche Berlin, held on November 10th and 11th, 2023 
Organized by Sima Ehrentraut (CONSTELLATIONS) and Nina Tolksdorf (RA 4) with Julia Lübbecke (former Dorothea-Schlegel Artist in Residence) and Jessica Walter. Part of the event series “After Accumulation” at EXC TC.

Touch is a central element in archival work: the handling of objects, their storing, and their categorization go into direct encounters with the residues, chosen leftovers, and fragmented objects from lived lives, past events, and political movements. At the same time, the archive operates as a place for the protected preservation and collection of selected or by chance assembled objects – creating an enclosed and organized space with structurally ambivalent accessibility. Touching the Archive aims to explore the material and media conditions under which an archive becomes graspable: What does it need to become readable and activated? How do we get in touch with the archive, and how do institutional frameworks, funding, and spatial aspects inform an archive profile?

In addition to the complex field of archival practices and its dynamics of accumulation and selection, the event extends the question of touching to the aspect of mediality: How do archives touch us and how do we get in touch with the archive? How do different medialities of objects (for example photography, video, and digital artworks) structure the modes of experiencing an archive? How do histories and fragments of the past materialize through media? 

By including artistic approaches to archiving in the workshop, we want to focus on the intermedial dimensions of the archive and on the specific affective and sensory modes they create. In discussions with these practitioners who work with and against the archive, Touching the Archive goes beyond the archive as a (semi-)institutionalized space:  How do artistic approaches facilitate and re-formulate the question of how to getting in touch with archived (and un-archived) materials? How do artworks trigger a modified understanding of what archiving means, what it aims for, and which forms of knowledge and time it produces? The artists’ approaches compel the archive to track its gaps, its oppressed aspects, and its unreadabilities. They create a space for an encounter with the archive as an ambivalent side of the erasure of untold histories, hegemonic framing, and de-memorization of marginalized lives.

The two days of the workshop address these questions in cooperation with two spaces in Berlin:

On November 10, we will spend the day at the movement archive of the Schwules Museum Berlin for a practical workshop on Touching Queer Archives that leads us into the space and the collections of the SMU. We will get an introduction to the archive, the collection, and the history of the SMU. In small groups, we will learn how to approach archival material with a personal and/or research question. In the first part, working groups will look into the so-called “mixed boxes” – boxes with so far unclassified and randomly assembled archival objects – and formulate a first approach to what can be done within an archive and its challenges and limitations. The second part will approach research methods in the archive. The workshop will provide space for collective discussion and reflection on these experiences.

The second day, organized in cooperation with the art space Neun Kelche in Weißensee, will create a space for artistic deployments and reflections on archival practices, tools, and materials.

Embedded in Julia Lübbecke’s (former Artist in Residence at the EXC Temporal Communities) exhibition Kleber und Falten at Neun Kelche Berlin, the event brings three artistic positions in touch with each other to discuss the mediality of archives and the role of visual media in the context of modeling and imagining histories. Julia Lübbecke, Sabine Saba, and Maxine Vajt will present their work and enter into dialogue with each other and the participants, focusing on photographic touch, forms of archiving through cultural production, and the role of 3D-modeling in imagining an archive. Touching the Archive follows the artists to the margins of archival practices. In the company of the installation of Julia Lübbecke, Maxine Vajt’s work on trans video games as a sphere of manifestation of trans perspectives, and Sabine Saba’s subtle tracing of queer heritage, the workshop will plunge into different media environments and mediated modes of touch. 

Details regarding the time schedule will follow soon on this page.
To register for the event, please write an email to: sima.ehrentraut@fu-berlin.de

November 10, 2023
10 am – 5 pm
Schwules Museum Berlin
Lützowstraße 73, 10785 Berlin
November 11, 2023
12 am – 3 pm
Neun Kelche
Pasedagplatz 3-4, 13088 Berlin


Touching Queer Archives
November 10, 10 am – 5 pm

10.00 |    Intro SMU // After Accumulation

10.45 |   Input Jessica Walter

11.15 |   Break

11.25 |   Kleingruppenarbeit 1

12.00 |   Diskussion

13.00 |   Lunch Break

14.30 |   Kleingruppenarbeit 2

14.50 |   Vorstellung Bestellscheine (Jessica Walter)

15.10 |   Rundgang Archiv und Bibliothek in zwei Gruppen (Janika Seitz und Lauri Niebuhr)

15.50 |   Break

16.00 |   Free Writing Session, Erstellung von Texten, Reflexionen für digitales Zine Touching the Archive

16.40 |   Feedback // Ende

Touching the Archive
November 11, 12 am - 3 pm

12.00 |    Welcome & Coffee

12.15 |    Introduction After Accumulation // Neun Kelche

12.30 |    Getting in Touch with "Kleber und Falten", Conversation with Julia Lübbecke & Laura Seidel & Kira Dell

13.15 |    Snack Break

13.45 |    Maxine Vait: Playing agency - Forgetting as archiving

14.45 |    Break

15.00 |    Sabine Saba: Temporality of Dis/engagement

16.00 |    Sharing Thoughts & Goodbye