Personal Archive

Leading Editor:
Lucyna Marzec
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Personal Archive

Lucyna Marzec

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Section: Personal Archive

Abstract:

This article sets forth theoretical reflections rooted in my own archival experiences digitizing Julian Przyboś’s home archive in Warsaw under the auspices of the project Julian Przyboś – An Anthology of Uncollected and Unpublished Texts. This entirely banal archival work (scanning delicate sheets of paper; cataloging manuscripts edited by hand and smeared with ink spots or coffee stains; the various phantom drafts of Przyboś’s work; stylistic notes or spontaneous ideas quickly jotted down on the back of a business card or postcard) prompts the not-at-all banal question of the current scope and past potential for archiving experience in all its complex aspects. By eroding the archivist’s experience, the scan imparts no somatic or sensory dynamic by which we might reconstruct another person’s narrative, nor does it evoke a tangible memory of the archived experience. The mediator’s position between the archive’s creator and its target audience brings into focus the severe limitations of both practices.

Section: Personal Archive

Abstract:

A library is not an archive. And yet, notes scrawled in the margins of a book, personal notes, smeared ink, newspaper clippings, bookmarks, or index cards used in their place – all these things have inherent value, and their materiality is unyielding. A museum might well take them into its stores to study and protect them. In a used copy of Archeology of Knowledge, I come across an anonymous reading history in the form of underlined passages I might otherwise have missed; I am learning through another: my reading companion. The anonymity smooths the process. I do not need to engage. That nonchalant and almost bashful comment when you lend someone a book: “Ignore the markings.” The statement tries to circumvent vigilant reading while downplaying the gesture of lending something (to you, in fact). Threads snared in a knot, reading in the archive mode. Which is to say, a loving mode. And so, we are left with the whole range of activities that come with inheriting a library, and the reluctance to lend out books: the writing in the margins, the dogeared pages – this is the archive of reading.

Section: Personal Archive

Abstract:

If we understand the archive in abstract terms, as an apparatus that lays a framework for the production of knowledge and becomes an instrument of selection and control, then this forager of Ustroń rejects the archive’s mandate by complicating the discourse and carving out a space for Polish Evangelical Lutherans. Novelist Jerzy Pilch’s ironic take on the status of this religious identity indicates the gravity of Wantuła’s intervention: “Being Lutheran in Poland means something subtler than being Jewish in Poland. Jews once lived in Poland and do no longer. We Lutherans, on the other hand, once didn’t exist in Poland, and today, continue not to exist.” By problematizing the conflation of “the Pole” and “the Catholic” and verifying the canon of national history, Wantuła (author of Page from the History of the People of Cieszyn Silesia) broaches the borders of the Foucauldian archive. We could, of course, follow Agamben and argue that all subjectivization is a priori mediated by the apparatus. In this case, there is no way to take possession of the archive – we can only annihilate it. Wantuła, however, pulls off a subversive act of consequence: he expands the archive from within. Namely, by representing Evangelical Lutherans as the driving forces behind national consciousness in the Cieszyn region, he effaces the dividing lines that allow one to qualify them as a “foreign” group (for instance, by identifying them with Germans). In so doing, he challenges the system by which we generate statements of identity and community, giving voice to a people condemned to muteness by virtue of being cast among “the Germans.”

Section: Personal Archive

Abstract:

Constructing the personal archive mainly consists of a selection process followed (although one is not possible without the other) by the act of integrating the materials into a collection to form a specific image of one’s achievements, vision of reality, and the twists and turns of fate. The archive, after all, “has both ‘façade’ and ‘underside’ in a dual sense, in that it inevitably alludes to what it includes and leaves out.” Spending time with such a collection is even more remarkable if you know the person who put it together with their own hands, driven by their own motives. I have been fortunate enough to accumulate this experience as witness, reader, and scholar of the archive of an ethnographer I knew personally. The archives I have in mind are the papers collected and organized by ethnology professor Bronisława Kopczyńska-Jaworska – my mentor.

Section: Personal Archive

Abstract:

Among the archival materials left behind by scholars and artists, mixed in with notes, manuscripts, and letters, we often find index cards. The cards are a curious artifact, for today, as a tool of research, they are largely obsolete. Extensive collections of tiny cards that once belonged to the great minds of the humanities are often displayed in museums (as in the exhibition on Roland Barthes at the Centre Pompidou) or on television programs (in the case of the collections of Niklas Luhmann and Tymoteusz Karpowicz).

Section: Personal Archive

Abstract:

The Warsaw apartment shared by Julian Przyboś and Danuta Kula is home to several dozen folders brimming with typed and handwritten manuscripts, letters, press clippings, conference programs, and event flyers (often annotated with the poet’s notes). Most of the work in the collection has already been published. Mixed in with the manuscripts are typewritten pages noting final revisions to implement before publication. A traditional approach to these materials so meticulously organized by Przyboś’s wife would turn up little of note to expand scholarship on the poet. Perhaps a few redactions in the manuscripts bear mention, for we could use them to reconstruct alternative versions of specific poems, even if the resulting variations would be subtle. The archive, however, also bears witness to the poet’s life and offers a record of its time. Several folders are full of the petty scribbling of daily life, calendar pages, postcards, and notes offering material for analysis that may be difficult to decode but are nonetheless of value on a literary, linguistic, and material level. We can also read into the kind of paper used, the color of the ink, the effort and haste evident from the handwriting, incidental notes in the margins of whatever papers were at hand, and the condition of the pages (which often retain the traces of having been handled several times over, as if the poet liked to tamper with his notes). The material value of the documents added to the archive during the publication process has certainly degraded over time. We could, of course, edit the textual contents of the notes and publish them with commentary that gives shape to these findings. Yet, with certain objects, the word recedes to the background, and such editorial maneuvers seem misguided, for they capture only a narrow aspect of the materials in question to preserve and share with readers.

Section: Personal Archive

Abstract:

Where does the architectural drawing end up? What is its function within the architectural life cycle? Where do these drawings live once they have been realized in space? Will they be filed away in the architect’s personal archive? What of their status as art objects worthy of exhibition in the public sphere?

My fascination with architectural drawings representing architecture and its inherent themes is driven by my strong belief in this format’s function as architecture’s foundation as a professional trade, and my equal faith in the message this practice transmits. This article will therefore focus on the second life of the architectural drawing process – the record’s effect, documentation, archiving, commentary, explication, and presentation of ideas. As Maria Misiągiewicz has written, “the drawing, by portraying the architectural object, makes that object accessible. This state is defined by its directness, immediacy, and specificity – coinciding with the visual absence of the thing itself.”

My intention is to begin to uncover the meaning of drawn architecture as the emergence of an idea and the architectural idiom. By reading drawings as the transmission of architectural thought, we might better understand the structure of the architectural product and the creative process it stems from.