The Shedhalle archive is a publicly accessible collection of representative materials from and about past exhibitions at Shedhalle. In addition to books, catalogs, fanzines, records, CDs, and numerous videos, the archive also includes collections of flyers and binders with compiled texts. The video collection consists mainly of works by artist and media collectives.
The Shedhalle archive is open to the public during exhibition hours or by appointment, offering interested individuals a research and work area as well as an event space. For extensive on-site research, an advance appointment is required. The collection is non-circulating and must be consulted on site.
The entire publicly accessible collection can be searched in our online catalog at archiv.shedhalle.ch. A media browser for streaming audio and video files is currently in development. The archived Shedhalle websites (since 1994) offer an additional research tool, which is also available at archiv.shedhalle.ch.
Areas covered in the archive:
- Artistic production
- Feminist theory
- Economics and globalization
- Postcolonialism and migration
- Pop culture
- Technology criticism
- Militarization and peace politics
In 1996, the Shedhalle team wanted to create a research platform with literature, journals, videos, and music that would be available to the public in parallel to the institution’s program of exhibitions. The so-called “docu-post” (Doku-Stelle) was a stair-like structure within the exhibition space, serving simultaneously as a seating area for events and as a repository for the materials. The comfortable setting invited audiences to listen to music, watch videos, or read. This structure marked the beginning of today’s archive.
Over time, the need for a more focused and systematic collection emerged. As various terms for the stair-structure were tried out – “docu-post,” library, archive, document exchange – it became obvious that some terminological and conceptual clarification was in order. The fixed installation also limited the design options for the space, and the variety of colors and shapes disturbed the integrity of the exhibits. The archive was thus restructured for the exhibition never look back (2001). Susanna Perin and Alice Cantaluppi sorted the materials into categories, assigning a color to each category, thus making accessible the information, publications, and videos relating to projects produced at Shedhalle in the 1990s. Additionally, information about ongoing projects and activities of the independent Swiss art scene was included with the aim of reflecting on the meaning of the terms “independent” and “collective,” among other things. Discussions about the digitalization of the archive also started around this time.
In the following years, the entire archive was often relocated and, depending on the subject, parts of it were integrated into the design of exhibitions. In 2004, artist and curator Dan Wilkinson was commissioned with developing ideas for a new archive. He created an archival landscape that included a lounge and a viewing station. In the course of the collection’s reorganization, the hitherto unprocessed video materials were also cataloged systematically. In early 2005, Marina Klinker took over the task of establishing a new archival system. She adopted the classification system of never look back and cataloged all the video works and some of the written materials in a specially created database, making them searchable with an on-site search engine.
By 2010, the archive needed additional storage space. Karen Geyer and Markus Bösch designed and built new, clearly structured archival cabinets, with materials still organized according to topics, exhibitions, and media. Located by the entrance of Shedhalle, the archive offered an opportunity for researching and viewing the materials.
In December 2012, a redesigned library opened under Katharina Morawek’s curatorship. The new, self-contained space in the exhibition hall is available for events and houses the publicly accessible collection. Binders with publications and materials from the exhibition projects of the past 26 years were added and processed for public consultation. The archival team consisting of Maria Mosayebi, Inge Moser, Simone Schardt, and Andrea Thal dedicated themselves to this project. They compiled 180 binders, which offer a good overview of the past projects and activities.
Two years later, Silvan Hillmann and René Birrer were entrusted with the task of making the archive’s holdings available in an online catalogue. All objects were cataloged according to a standardized system, which unified the existing – partially incomplete and contradictory – lists, tables, and databases. Each item was recorded in the database and given a distinct call number indicating its location on the shelf. At the analog, spatial level, the aim was to preserve the traces of the various systems of the past 30 years, making them visible as interconnected, superimposed layers.
The new system of call numbers was no longer thematically structured, but instead allocated new arrivals an unambiguous location, to the right of the most recently cataloged document. The holdings were subdivided into two collections according to the origins of the materials: one, the archive with collections documenting the activities of Shedhalle; and two, the reference section assembling a variety of media that had been acquired by Shedhalle either because of their thematic scope or due to institutional or personal relationships (document exchange, magazine subscriptions, etc.).
On the one hand, these innovations are intended to facilitate research. On the other, they provide the basis for an overview of the structure of the various collections created over the past 30 years.