archive of the unknown – Baalbeck Studios Beirut

Photo: Lisabona Rahman

archive of the unknown is an interdisciplinary collaboration between students from the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts in Beirut and the Academy of Fine Arts Munich, together with Joseph Rustom and Sandra Schäfer and in partnership with UMAM Documentation & Research in Beirut. We were fortunate to participate in the archiving processes of Baalbeck Studios in Beirut, a film and music production company that operated from 1962 to 1994 and was of immense local and international importance. In 2010, the Lebanese cultural organisation UMAM was able to save a large amount of the archival material from destruction. Working with partly inaccessible film, sound, and paper material as well as the ruins of the building, our project investigates Baalbeck Studios’ imaginaries, resonances, diffusions, erosions, contaminations, and composting of materials and memories. Some of the questions we addressed included what role the archive has in the accessibility of knowledge, how it relates to memory, and what role materiality plays. We shared this process in Kassel as an installation with a stage-like set comprising sounds, film, and other materials harvested as part of our collective working process. The Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts in Beirut and the Academy of Fine Arts Munich are part of the Composting Knowledge Network of documenta fifteen.

From August 13 to September 25, an activation took place at the Composting Knowledge Network’s premises at Hafenstraße 76 in Kassel.

In addition, students engaged with ruangrupa’s questions and methods in relation to new economies, communities of solidarity, and principles of sharing. Our discussion focused on the scalability of self-organisation in the very different contexts of Beirut and Munich. To this end, various guests were invited to participate in workshops and conversations. These included the architects Jesko Fezer, Sandra Bartoli and Silvan Lindan, the artists Jumana Manna and Marwa Arsanios, as well as Reza Afisina and Iswanto Hartono from ruangrupa and Ayşe Güleç from the artistic team of documenta fifteen.

With Georges Azzi, Mohamad Bzih, Paola Faddoul, Anne Gauger, Christina Georges, Benjamin Gerull, Kathrin Herold, Elias Khoury, Magdalena Kratzer, Lucia Ott, Joseph Rustom, Anja Schäfer, Sandra Schäfer, Karen Stephan, and Manuela Unverdorben.

With financial support from the documenta fifteen, the Goethe-Institut Beirut, ALBA Beirut, and the Akademieverein Munich.

Exhibition documenta fifteen, Hafenstraße 76, Kassel

© 2018 mazefilm - Sandra Schäfer