10 April 2022 at 16:00

7 April – 29 May 2022
Wednesday - Sunday 12:00 – 18:00

Everyone is an archivist

Catching Up in the Archive is a major exhibition showcasing the evolving infrastructure of de Appel Archive.1 Displaying more than 16 000 objects in de Appel’s Aula and launching an interactive online environment, Catching Up in the Archive stages unprecedented activations, public gatherings, ear-opening encounters, and ‘moving’ situations with special guests and curious passers-by.

Opening of Catching Up in the Archive with Table Guest DJ Loma Doom. Photos by Nicola Barrato

about the exhibition

In a daring move, artist Mariana Lanari relocates the extensive Archive to the Aula, rearranging all its objects, along with the work-stations of the Archive’s team. Lanari’s deliberate spatial intervention goes in tandem with the implementation of customised digital technologies developed by Archival Consciousness: mobile archive units (a.k.a Silverfish) that can identify archival objects, scan materials, and instantly display them on bibliograph, the exhibition’s online environment. Through a hands-on approach, these novel applications are put to work by visitors and accidental passers-by, who are invited to browse, read, scan, and annotate items of their own choosing. By doing so, visitors acquire the know-how of the Archive’s infrastructure and participate in shaping de Appel’s dynamic and growing digitised collections. And above all: they can create their own, personal archives.

As Lanari highlights:

My aspiration with Catching Up in the Archive is to enable visitors to discover de Appel’s rich archive, demystify present technologies, and make their transformative potential at the disposal of cultural institutions, like de Appel, who do not tire from finding ways to maintain the conditions of existence of a lively, and accessible cultural archive.

The temporary relocation of de Appel Archive to the Aula evokes the memories of de Appel’s various rehousing. These rehousing were formative junctures to the Archive’s workers, informing their conception of the Archive as a shared construction site, one that requires ongoing spatial, conceptual, and discursive explorations. In the same vein, Catching Up in the Archive catches up with visitors who, with every action they take, intervene on what the archive may become. This also results in a catching up with digital technologies and their unexplored potential. Catching Up in the Archive is a pivotal step towards realising de Appel Archive’s greater vision: Spaces-Run-Archive, which aims at transforming the Archive into a nomadic, mobile archive that can travel the world to meet other archives.

The complementary ways of navigation in the Archive –online and offline– are mediated by the physical presence of Lanari’s intricate semantic model. Online, the model manifests itself in its structuring of the Archive’s new digital interface and the dynamic connections among its digitised materials. Physically, the model materialises in a schema covering the Aula’s floor, and serves as a framework for the circulation of books and visitors in the space. By removing books from shelves, stacking them on the floor, and applying semantic technologies, Lanari unleashes the Archive from standardised topologies of display, rigid categorical classifications and opens it up to unpredictable discoveries. As Lanari elaborates on her intervention:

Cultural archives are hidden behind search boxes or behind real boxes, almost as if they are prisoners of the physical and digital space, and as a result they remain invisible and hard to access. By physically displaying de Appel Archive and using this opportunity to design a semantic layer for the existing de Appel database along a new digital interface, we can spatialize the dynamic nature of the collection and enhance its public discoverability, both in the physical and digital space. This will liberate the possibilities for fascinating interpretations and will facilitate future connections among various local and international sister archives.

The exhibition is accompanied by a curated bookshop by and so on books (Moosje M. Goosen) and BOOKS@RET (Matt Hickley).

about the artist

Mariana Lanari is an artist, co-founder of Archival Consciousness, and Ph.D. candidate at the Amsterdam School of Heritage, Memory, and Material Cultures, University of Amsterdam. Lanari's practice is invested in studying and intervening in processes of physical and digital mediation in cultural libraries through community-oriented semantic technologies.

Catching Up in the Archive is the outcome of Lanari’s long-term collaboration with De Appel and her research into the design of customised applications of semantic and graph technologies that are sensitive to the institution’s history and the Archive’s existing relational database. The exhibition builds on her ongoing research projects, previously presented at Casa do Povo, São Paolo, in 2019 and the Stedelijk Museum in 2015-2016.

Lanari's visionary and socially committed practice has been recognised both in the Netherlands and internationally. In 2019 she co-founded Archival Consciousness in collaboration with graphic designer Remco van Bladel to investigate new publishing methods for cultural libraries and archives. Lanari and Bladel have been awarded the MediaFutures grant in the framework of EU Horizon 2020, the Route Kunst support from the NWA/NWO, Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie, among others.

Archival Consciousness
Archival Consciousness was initiated by artist Mariana Lanari and graphic designer Remco van Bladel to develop collaborative publishing applications taking the database as a starting point. They are interested in the long term preservation and dissemination of cultural libraries and archives.

Special thanks

Credits exhibition

We would like to pay our tribute to the following people who were involved in this special project, alongside our sponsors and funds: Remco van Bladel, graphic-designer and co-founder of Archival Consciousness, Judith de Bruyn, volunteer of the Archive, Artemis Christidi, research intern, Mohamad Dib, researcher and co-curator of Catching Up in the Archive, Nell Donkers, curator of the Appel Archive and initiator of Catching Up in the Archive, Harald van Eck, volunteer of the Archive, Jacquine van Elsberg, volunteer of the Archive and unprecedented source of knowledge, Jan van Geem, volunteer of the Archive, Moosje Moti Goosen, curator of the bookshop, Matt Hickley, volunteer and curator of the bookshop, Mariana Lanari, researcher and artist, Lynn Salentijn, research intern, and ofcourse you, our public! Without you Catching Up in the Archive would have been impossible to realise.


Archiving is a work-in-progress
de Appel respects the work of artists and other makers, and tries her best to properly credit them. Any perceived mistake crediting any individual or organisation is completely unintentional. Please contact info [​at​] for remarks, additions and questions

1   de Appel Archive contains approximately 13.188 books, 3.043 magazines, 469 videos and films, 266 audio recordings, 221 posters, 191 artworks, 113 articles and innumerable photographs, official and personal documents, made in collaborations with 29.682 people, 945 collectives, and 4.134 institutes from 68 countries.