Archiving and conservation of 'Talking Back to the Media'

In September 2013, LIMA and de Appel arts centre started with the archiving of Artists Talking Back to the Media, a manifestation initiated by the artists David Garcia and Raul Marroquin that took place in Amsterdam in November 1985. The aim of Talking Back to the Media was to show work by artists who were making use of one of the mass media and who attempted to deconstruct the 'reality' evoked by the mass media or commented on the media in some other way in their work. TBTTM consisted of numerous events, as a photography exposition, artist conversations, a theatre play, a film festival, a publication and local television broadcasts. 

To research this manifestation, de Appel and LIMA assigned two interns: Brigitte Bélanger and Camie Karstanje. In the past year they have been mapping out the material that they have found in the archives of LIMA and de Appel; material that illustrates the time in which the manifestation took place and the effect the mass media had on people in those days. After reading and seeing the material, their assumptions on the relevancy of the theme of the manifestation was strengthened. The influence of the mass media only increased since the 80's and all of the concerns of the initiators and artists are concerns we have nowadays. The complexity of the 'reality' that the media shapes got only bigger by the diversity of sources and the interactivity and power of the social media.

The research
a report by Camie Karstanje and Brigitte Bélanger

The first step of our research and archiving was going into the archive of de Appel for a first inventory of all the types of documents that were linked to the manifestation; files with an overview of 1985, files of artist working with or for TBTTM, files of '85 correspondence, press-files belonging to that year. At LIMA, we then started to watch videos that were found in their archive belonging to Talking Back to the Media. Next to this, some artworks commissioned by Talking Back to the Media were viewed and digitised. Together with the written material as correspondence, it gave us great insight into the organisation and ideas behind the manifestation.

In December 2013, all this material was described and digitised, and we started to contact the initiators Raul Marroquin and David Garcia, and other people involved: Rob Perrée, Sabrina Kamstra and Sébastian Lopéz. These interviews and talks were focused on their personal experience and memory, the developments in the co-working and their ideas and ideals involved in the manifestation. Besides that, we also cleared up some practical aspects which were unclear until then. These interviews were held between December 2013 and February 2014. In the months following, we worked on blog posts which were published on the websites of LIMA and de Appel to present the project to a larger audience.

In January, we have visited the only other organisation involved in TBTTM that still had documents of the manifestation in their archive: Kriterion. For this material we went to the Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis (IISG) in Amsterdam. During the spring and summer of 2014, all scans, stills, transcripts of interviews and blogs were transfered to a PDF. This PDF contains all the material we have found, collected and created in our research. The document was created in order to store and cross all the information that concerns TBTTM, and not directly meant to be published. Access to the PDF is possible via de Appel and the library of LIMA.

Archiving TBTTM is a work in progress, that will be continued on October 21, 2014 with a presentation at LIMA and further research at VU University.