During the month of November, within the frame of Marianne Mueller’s solo exhibition, Sliding Self on Shelf, we are inviting personalities from French-speaking and German-speaking Switzerland, Italy, US and Berlin, Germany, to join us by transmitting a sound contribution. The individual proposals take the form of interviews, poetry readings, DJ sets and sound pieces, and are broadcast on our display-berlin.com platform.
In summer 2022, Camille Kaiser visited the archives of ECPAD, the French Republic’s Defense Communication and Audiovisual Production Establishment, in Ivry sur Seine, on the outskirts of Paris, to shoot a film. She recorded sounds, with or without images, in various spaces, both indoors and outdoors: in the huge outdoor park that houses this military site, in the offices, in the digitization room, conservation and archive consultation areas. Having obtained a one-day authorization for the shoot, she then had to work quickly, with the availability, the few obtained authorizations, and the restrictions. In moments of inaction and to optimize the time, the camera and the recorder turn.
The sounds are those of the people working directly on the set (handling the camera, commenting on the shots) or of the ECPAD team during interviews and explanations about the location, or simply related to the compulsory accompaniment during the shoot for security reasons. Several people are constantly crowded around the camera, despite the very small shooting area. The almost inaudible whispers and comments, which sometimes made it impossible to use the filmed material, combined with the continuous humming of electronic devices, generate a dim, familiar but intriguing atmosphere that evokes the context of the shoot and informs us about the nature of the site.
Creaking, rattling or scratching noises speak of an archive space as an office space, an administered space. The sounds of chairs, computers, plastic manipulation, coffee machines, doors and ventilation, generally so little considered by the ear. These sounds open up a wider consideration of the architecture of the place and the somehow dreary, everyday life of a banal office, which contrasts with the images preserved in its archives. There is a contrast between the controlled, tidy, calm, ordinary archive working space and the images it preserves, images that convey violence, darker and more chaotic moments of history.
Camille Kaiser (1992, CH-FR) is an artist-researcher based in Geneva, Switzerland. Her artistic practice takes form in long-term research projects. Recently, she has been working on family and state archival documents made in Switzerland, France and Algeria between the mid 1950s and early 1960s in the context of colonial occupation and the transition to Algeria’s independence. Her works explore legacies of intimate archives and their relation to institutional archives of a similar place and time, using fiction as an artistic and political strategy to redirect attention and rewrite routines of collective use. She has exhibited at Nieuwe Instituut Rotterdam, Aargauer Kunsthaus, Centre d’art contemporain de Genève, Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, among others. She is currently in a research residency at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris.