Forming counter archives is a practice of subversion. It is a strategy to trouble the power of the official archive through collecting, documenting, and forming alternative perspectives and storytelling. It also points to the limits of what can be archivable by drawing attention to what is often invisible or untold. For Issue 2 of Desktop Archives, we draw attention to the mundane, the trace, and the absence of a material body that has been displaced because of sickness, measures of distance, or the nature of the web.  

In Issue 2, Elisabeth Smolarz creates intimate portraits of significant items that acted as transitional objects through the covid-19 crisis. Prompting the subjects with the question: “what helped you through the pandemic,” these portraits reveal something unlikely. The objects in question, a fruit peel, nail clippings, a clothing rack, or everyday items have, out of necessity, been elevated to a relic or an artefact. Smolarz’s work is part of her multi-year project “The Encyclopedia of Things” (2014-ongoing), where the artist has been investigating how inanimate things are inscribed with meaning. Her still-lifes reveal an unconscious animism that jolts and unsettles the primacy human.

Desktop Archives is an online publishing initiative and event series that showcases webworks from 10 different artists. The project is DIY and works outside of institutional networks. Together, the platform documents and archives unrests from the pandemic and the asynchronous, unequivalent emergences.

The platform is a growing archive and will have two editions in
June and November 2021. It will be accompanied by a series of artist talks.

Dates: June 30th 2021-February 28th, 2022
Online | Warsaw | Berlin 

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