Feb 17, 2022

How archives shape our present

The Whole Life. Archives & Imaginaries
Talks, installations, performances, screenings, online platform

March 24-26, 2022 Free admission In English

March 24-April 18, 2022

Online platform

In an exhibition of installation-based case studies and a three-day congress, The Whole Life. Archives & Imaginaries reflects archives as places for counter-narratives and illuminates the links between archives and society. From March 24 to 26, art installations and a diverse program transform all of HKW into an alternative archival space.

During the congress, artists and scholars will develop alternative narrative forms and research strategies in experimental formats. They demonstrate how comprehensively archives, as infrastructures of preservation, perpetuate hegemonic thinking. At the same time, we see what methods and practices are necessary in order to make archives usable as a resource for reflecting contemporary questions and for future knowledge production.

In eight installations, artists unfold their own strategies for dealing with archival material. Assaf Gruber’s docufictional film Transient Witness provides insight into a world-famous art collection from a dog’s perspective. Based on the archives at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Charlotte Eifler and Clarissa Thieme’s film installation relates digital technologies, witnessing and coming to terms in societies traumatized by war in the former Yugoslavia. Tony Cokes extracts fragments from literary sources and witness accounts of explicit violence during World War II and the Rwandan genocide, amongst others, and makes it possible to experience what this means for the politics of memory today. On HKW 's roof terrace, the Mobile Academy Berlin and Death, Destruction & Dodos place a shredder for the ceremonial disposal of archival materials.

The congress is the final event of The Whole Life. An Archive Project, which is conceived by Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst e.V. / Archive außer sich, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, the Pina Bausch Foundation and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD). A week-long kick-off congress in Dresden in May 2019 explored contemporary methods, orders and conditions of archives. Since October 2021, the international Whole Life Academy Berlin has been developing a nomadic curriculum in ten online workshops. The website wholelife.hkw.de maps the research and compiles essays, photographs and videos from the project network in an online platform. Users can link the material to create dynamic thematic clusters.

More information at hkw.de/en/thewholelife
Press photos: hkw.de/pressefotos
Detailed program information coming soon


Installations by Bini Adamczak, Nathalie Anguezomo Mba Bikoro, Chto Delat, Tony Cokes, Charlotte Eifler & Clarissa Thieme, Assaf Gruber, Mobile Academy Berlin, Olaf Nicolai with Nina Akhvlediani

Lectures by and talks with Mieke Bal, Amanda Boetzkes, Nanna Bonde Thylstrup, Başak Ertür, Avery F. Gordon, Doreen Mende, Monika Rinck, Rasha Salti, Ines Schaber, Shela Sheikh, Cornelia Sollfrank, Oxana Timofeeva, Kathryn Yusoff among others

Performances by Salim Bayri, Chto Delat, Euripides Laskaridis, Paula Montecinos Oliva, Markus Öhrn

Screenings with films by Walter Heynowski and Gerhard Scheumann, Mario Marret, Yugantar among others


A collaboration between Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art / Archive außer sich, Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Pina Bausch Foundation, and Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD). Part of HKW’s project The New Alphabet, supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media due to a ruling of the German Bundestag.

Haus der Kulturen der Welt is supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media and by the Federal Foreign Office.

Visitor information

Current hours: Daily, except Tue, 12 noon-8 pm
Please check the Covid regulations currently in effect before your visit on hkw.de/en/thewholelife.

Press contact

Jan Trautmann
Head of Press and PR
Haus der Kulturen der Welt
John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10
10557 Berlin
T + 49 (0) 30 39787-192