vol. 5 No. 1 June 2021

The Global Archive and the Future of Poetics
Author:Barrett Watten    Time:2021-09-22    Click:

The Global Archive and the Future of Poetics

Barrett Watten

Page 094-108


Abstract: In defining “the global archive,” this essay refers, first of all, to the historical development of exhibitions in Germany that address a global horizon, a distinct cultural project since at least the Enlightenment. After 1945, modern art, which had been removed from public view by the Nazi state, was reintroduced as a project of reeducation as much as aesthetics. Documenta, beginning in 1955, exhibited modern and later artists in the destroyed buildings of the city of Kassel, and expanded its formal and cultural address to a global scale over its fifty-year history. Documenta itself became a kind of continuous archive of its own exhibition history, a mode of formal presentation that increasingly relied on the works it presented. Here I read in detail the archival strategies and form of dOCUMENTA 13, arguably a highpoint of this effort to archive globality as it emerges. Theorists from Michel Foucault, Fredric Jameson, and Arjun Appadurai to the “critical regionalism” of Cheryl Herr and the “negative globality” of Alberto Moreiras assist in the project of comprehending the “archive as form,” seen in a series of artists working on a global scale.

Keywords: documenta, exhibition history, globalization, archives, World War II, 21st century art, Germany


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