There are countless examples of artists working with archives, archival photographs, archival film footage, archival object. Artists are in constant search of meaning of the past how the past impact the present, identity, culture, memory and even use archive to restructure history.
The example given by Rachel Bracha, from her article “Artists the film archive: re-creation—or archival replay” of the artist Shimon Attie in engaging with history and reviving memories through space is striking example of how the artist does restore history, represented through archival material, photographs here, through the visual field of the present. Rachel Barcha explains how visual can tell the past of 60 years ago and tell the story of today. The artist projected in streets of Berlin walls photographs from pre-world war II photographs of a Jewish Quarter (project: the writing on the wall: http://shimonattie.net/portfolio/the-writing-on-the-wall/) . And the example of ‘strategic practice’ as explained by Apel ‘which is dependent on moralizing pedagogy’, of Eichmann trial held in Jerusalem 1961, in the documentary The Specialistby Sivan. The film as Bracha R explains it ‘the Eichmann trial served as a ‘moralizing remembrance strategy’ for the Israeli government. Ardent’s report critically questioned some of the judicial proceedings of the trial and its ideological premise—namely that Eichmann was a blood-thirsty monster whose crimes were fulled by raging antisemitism and should therefore be considered as crimes against the Jewish people specifically rather than against humanity as a whole’. Rachel explains how the documentary producer didn’t try to represent history as it is but rather offer an interpretation of it through the philosophy of Ardent, the most influential independent thinkers of the 20th century. Rachel argue that the power of visual used in this documentary by the artist ‘Sivan’ , who uses 350hours of recordings of the trial and use the controversial book Eichmann in Jerusalem, report on the banality of evil, to show case his position and critic about the present.
Thus the film offers a cutting insight into a system that is effectively predicated on denial and disculpation – “when everyone is guilty, nobody is” (Arendt). But Sivan also insinuates that the regime of justification does not only apply to the history of the genocide of the Jews in Europe but also to the history of the state of Israel. Are the Palestinians, as Edward Said asserted, not “the victims of the victims”? Making the artist not the archivist but the artists uses archive to comment on theories or offer theories as per The Specialist.
Rachel Bracha walks us through the power of use of archives in art, and how Sivan’s creative re-creation of archives allowed the new generation to question the past. The play with archival footage made it possible to allow new generation to reconsider the impact of the past on the present. The past, represented by archival material, doesn’t have to be used as it always been presented, it is material that can be shuffled to tell the story in different way, from different prospective. Artists should not be limited to reproduction of story but can make political statement.