neil cummings

Enthusiasts Archive

The Enthusiasts Archive is the result of extensive research amongst the remnants of amateur film clubs in Poland under socialism.

It's a critical archive of beautiful amateur films found, restored and made available.

Enthusiasts Archive design

It was online from 2006 - 2013 hosted by Arteleku in San Sebastian, unfortunately due to Spanish 'austerity' funding cuts Arteleku was disaggregated, and in the process many films, the archives structure and meta-data were lost. A tragedy.

The good news is, in 2018 the emerging Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw acquired the archive as part of its permanent collection. Its the first digital artwork they have accessioned. Almost two years work has resulted in the archive being reimagined, remade and hosted permanently online.

The archive was launched at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, 28th November 2019

Archives, like collections in museums and galleries are built with the property of multiple authors and previous owners.

Although unlike the collection, there is no imperative within the conventional logic of the archive, to exhibit, display or interpret its holdings.

An archive designates a territory - and not a particular narrative. The material connections contained are not already authored as someone’s – for example, a curator’s or artist - it’s a discursive terrain where interpretations are invited...

The Enthusiasts Archive began with a chance encounter in 2001 with Krzysztof Kieslowski’s first popular feature film Amator (Film Buff) from 1979. The main character is a leading member of a factory based film club.

Enthusiasts Archive design

Intrigued, Marysia Lewandowska and I began a research project in the summer of 2002 into the existence and remnants of amateur film clubs in socialist Poland.

Eighteen months of research - criss-crossing the country - revealed an extraordinary range of films, from 2-minute animations, to short ‘experimental’ and ‘abstract’ films, from documentaries on family, village, city or factory life; to historical dramas and ambitious features.

There is an astonishing range of material, beautifully crafted -because film stock was precious- and largely forgotten.

As a result of our research into the films, their makers and clubs, a huge selection of forgotten 16 and 8 mm material was found, usually in people’s houses, and sometimes literally under their beds.

Joined by curator Lukasz Ronduda at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw we embarked on cleaning, restoring and digitizing as much material as we could find money to support.

And we worked on ways of exhibiting and sharing the results. A series of exhibitions followed, and several publications

Enthusiasts exhibition at the Center for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw 2004.

Enthusiasm at the Whitechapel, London; Kunst Werke, Berlin; and Fundacio Antonio Tapies,
Barcelona, 2005 - 6

As the exhibition evolved, the archive lounge - a space where we enabled visitors to watch films found, cleaned and digitised but not screened as part of the exhibition programme - continued to grow.

Visitors loved the archive.

We realised an online archive would be a wonderful way to enable access the films when the exhibitions were no more, so we tried to persuade cultural institutions in Poland to construct and host an Enthusiasts Archive. No one was interested, which lead to Arteleku in the Basque region of Spain in 2006......

Here it is, Enthusiasts Archive

Related projects include Social Cinema and Open Cinema: Home and Documents

52.2431, 21.0271

Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej w Warszawie
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22

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