Issue 01

“You will meet a driver who is also your technician.”

Josine van Droffelaar in a letter to Pooh Kaye in preparation of De Dans Voorbij (a collaboration between de Appel and Holland Festival) 1981.

Interested in the Archive of de Appel as a site of relations, preservation by activation, and welcoming the visible meeting of the professional and the personal, artist Martha Jager’s research for the upcoming two issues of The Remote Archivist takes the vast collection of correspondence as its point of departure.

Focusing on the early de Appel years of 1974 - 1983, she looked through and read hundreds of letters, telegrams and postcards of a.o. Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Alison Knowles, Barbara T. Smith and Mierle Laderman Ukeles.

Although different in size, form and content, many of the correspondences share a specific vulnerability in how they speak about life & work, and often express a deep-felt feminist friendship with de Appel founder and director at that time Wies Smals and curator Josine van Droffelaar.

A letter from choreographer and filmmaker Pooh Kaye from 1981, addressed to Josine van Droffelaar, especially stood out. So much so that Martha decided to respond with a letter herself which developed into a dialogue by post and email.

This correspondence, which weaves memory with the present and journeys through the Archive of de Appel as well as two personal histories, forms the second series of The Remote Archivist.

Issue 02

"In response to your letter let us start by saying we do not feel addressed by ‘Dear Sirs’"

Martha Jager is no stranger to the Archive of de Appel, two years ago she joined as a guest archivist for a few months. During her undaunted searches she came across special correspondence and Mail art in the Archive of de Appel. Then, in 2020, she started the letter project “Dear,”. As a curator, she invites artists and poets every month to write a letter that people receive at home. Martha is interested in personal histories and correspondence as a form to establish contact and create networks. The writer and reader, like the receiver and sender, constantly change roles, just as Martha changes roles effortlessly. Now in 2021, Martha is back in the Archive of de Appel as an artist to create series 02 of The Remote Archivist. She knows her way around and can accurately locate the correspondence she stumbled upon in 2019. She says: the dialogues in the archive are waiting for someone to activate them. That can be quick, but can also take years. The resonance remains. The pieces come to (new) life and the makers are brought out of (sometimes very deep) oblivion.

In 1980, de Appel programmed De Dans Voorbij (Beyond Dance) at the “Holland Festival”. Josine van Droffelaar worked as an “employee” in de Appel from 1978–1983, now we would call her curator. Wies Smals, who founded de Appel in 1974 and was usually called director but sometimes “directrice” (female form of director), would now have the title Artistic Director. Wies and Josine were the compilers of De Dans Voorbij and invited Pooh Kaye as a dancer. On the website of de Appel, Pooh is described as a “perfect” student of Simone Forti. Today, Pooh describes herself as a filmmaker and choreographer.

The intimate and personal correspondence between Pooh Kaye, Josine van Droffelaar and Wies Smals is Martha’s entry point to the archive. For The Remote Archivist, Martha contacted Pooh Kaye and they started a correspondence, both digitally and on paper. A personal language between two women of different generations describing everyday affairs in all degrees of importance. In 20 years, someone from the next generations will fish out the correspondence between Martha and Pooh from the archives. That artist, researcher, curator, dancer, director, choreographer, filmmaker, writer and/or archivist will first assume the role of reader.

Artists: Martha Jager, Pooh Kaye

With correspondence from the archive of: Barbara T. Smith, Barbara Howard, Martha Wilson, Josine van Droffelaar, Marian Zazeela, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Ulrike Rosenbach, Yvonne Rainer, Joan Jonas, Barbara Bloom, Martha Wilson, Gina Pane, Josine van Droffelaar, Femke Aggy, Francien and Mia

Archivist: Nell Donkers
Design: Bardhi Haliti
Publisher: Stichting de Appel
Print: Raddraaier SSP

This second series is made in collaboration with Jaap Harten Fonds

Sign up