Archive Interpretations

Exhibition, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, Netherlands.


From September 8, 2017 until January 7, 2018
Het Nieuwe Instituut manages one of the biggest architecture collections in the world. Like any other archive, this State Archive for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning only comes to life when the preserved material is studied, interpreted and shared with the public, allowing new ideas to emerge and new stories to be told. Since 2014, Het Nieuwe Instituut has involved designers, artists and researchers in opening up its collection – for example, through commissions in the series New Archive Interpretations – and entices them to explore the role of an archive in their work. Over the past four years, this initiative has resulted in some remarkable projects that have been presented at home and abroad, but not in the institute itself, a central part of which is the collection. Archive Interpretations offers the perfect context to now bring home four different projects.
Under the title ‘New Archive Interpretations’, Het Nieuwe Instituut launched in 2014 a series of commissions for artists, designers and researchers, under the supervision of Annet Dekker, to examine the influence and impact of the digital archive in relation to its analogue predecessor, the paper archive.
What Remains is a study of the form of the game. Amber Griffiths, Dave Griffiths, Arnaud Guillon, Aymeric Mansoux and Marloes de Valk explore on the one hand the influence of technology and media on our self-image, and on the other the biggest challenge facing people today: global warming. The game is situated in 1986 and uses the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Nintendo Famicom game computers and old cartridges. At that time, according to the makers, we could have changed our lifestyle drastically, but that didn’t happen. The climate issue played no role in public opinion. The game stimulates participants to adopt a critical position regarding the idea of authorities and media.
The artist duo Lernert & Sander used the historical collection of wallpaper manufacturer Rath & Doodeheefver in a spatial installation and performance during the Salone del Mobile in Milan (2014). Their project was not only a homage to the rich collection (for which architects like H.P. Berlage made designs) but also a signal to the design world to reflect on the preservation of significant design archives. The archives of Rath & Doodeheefver are currently administered by AkzoNobel.