Cite as: Q&A of the discussion Impossible Archives, Infinite Collections, ICI Berlin, 19 October 2017, video recording, mp4, 15:34 <>
19 Oct 2017



Carles Guerra
Ina Steiner

Video in English

Format: mp4
Length: 00:15:34
First published on:
Rights: © ICI Berlin

Part of the Discussion

Impossible Archives, Infinite Collections / Carles Guerra, Ina Steiner

Between order and disorder, finite and infinite, dispersal and arrangement, accumulation and categorization, memory and oblivion, useful and useless, a tension pulses in recent mutations of collecting and archiving. Should this ‘archive fever’ be seen as an archive inflation expanding the reign of commodification? Is a new form of archival time emerging? What do the nonconformist collecting and archiving practices developed by contemporary artists say about the possibility of a different relationship to history, memory, and cultural heritage, that is, to the present and the future?

An obsessive preoccupation with the archive pervades the arts, criticism, and curatorial practice. In everyday life, digital data storage has turned contemporary users into potential archivists, taxonomists, and collectors, relying on cloud services and social media networks as storage places for the safekeeping, sharing, and manipulation of even the most intimate facts and images of their lives. But the same technologies inspire a widespread archive dysphoria:  an exhaustive melancholic state that fuels the current efforts for ‘impossible archives’, that is, counter-archives that question the idea of an all-encompassing repository of personal and collective information and knowledge.

The conversation will focus on archives and collections in contemporary art and takes its cue from the recent publication of Cristina Baldacci’s Impossible Archives: An Obsession of Contemporary Art (Italian edition, 2016).

Carles Guerra is the Director of the Fundació Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona. He holds a PhD in Fine Arts from the University of Barcelona and a Master in Media Studies from The New School for Social Research, New York. He served as Director for the Primavera Fotogràfica de Catalunya (2004), the Virreina. Centre de la Imatge, Barcelona (2009-2011), and was Chief Curator of the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2011-2013). Among his curatorial projects, Harun Farocki: Mit anderen Mitteln – By Other Means (with Antje Ehmann, 2017), and 1979. A Monument to Radical Moments (2011). His work and research investigate the dialogical aspects of artistic practice and the cultural policies of post-Fordism.

Ina Steiner is a photographer who works in the fields of architecture, politics, and fashion. She was part of the Allan Sekula research project at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp (M HKA). She was Allan Sekula’s assistant during the last decade of his life and helped prepare his show at documenta XII. Since 2012 she has taken care of his archive and arranged a number of exhibitions and publications.


ICI Berlin
(Click for further documentation)


Carles Guerra
Ina Steiner

Organized by

Cristina Baldacci
Clara Masnatta