Woman for women – There always remains in woman that force which produces/is produced by the other – in particular, the other woman. In her, matrix, cradler; herself giver as her mother and child; she is her own sister-daughter. … Everything will be changed once woman gives woman to the other woman. There is hidden and always ready in woman the source; the locus for the other,always ready in woman the source; the locus for the other. The mother, too, is a metaphor. It is necessary and sufficient that the best of herself be given to woman by another woman for her to be able to love herself and return in love the body that was ‘born’ to her. Touch me, caress me, you the living no-name, give me my self as myself.
Hélène Cixous, The Laugh of the Medusa, 1976.
The project studies the problematic of the ‘archive’ in its theoretical, philosophical, and technological meanings, and in terms of archival praxis. The bibliography and the section devoted to ‘textuality’ show the involved references, fields, and disciplines. In this vast field of investigation, invention and experimentation – which constitute the central vocations of the project – and as a general de-limitation of the involved representative ambition, the digital archive privileges two traits: the Matriarchive and the Mediterranean.
The critical assumption is that the archival vocation, in contemporary times, constitutes a ‘mal d’Afrique’, a ‘mal d’archive’. We all love archiving – in order to remember, or to forget? What is important is that the archive, in its desire and compulsion, is and has always been related to the arké, the archons, the architecture of a place destined to the consignment, in patriarchal lineage, of texts, signs, memories, documents and materials selected by – male -– guardians working for the interests of – male – institutions meant to safeguard memory/ from memory. The apparatus of the archive is male, patriarchal, and patrilineal, constituting the hereditary and the legacy of what repeats, safeguards and records: order, power, and tradition.
What gives birth to the Matriarchive of the Mediterranean lies in its difference from any institutionalized format. Problematic questions resound here: what happens if, differently from any patriarchive, the archive is devoted to women, to the ones who were, have been, and still are excluded from the selectivity of male archives? What changes if, and when, the archive practices a transmission of knowledge along feminine lineage? What takes place if the archon becomes the ‘woman’, the ‘Matriarch’ who offers the accumulation-dissemination of her knowledge to the archiving practice? The Matriarchive of the Mediterranean is a new, potential, and virtual archive of maternal, liquid, migrant, natural, technical, and material memory, preserved and transmitted by the aesthetics and performances of female artists in the present time experienced by the Mediterranean. This ‘other’ format poses many questions and problematic issues, choosing to connect them to four privileged recording themes:
The time-space of intervention of the Matriarchive of the Mediterranean is vast, immense and immemorial. It extends in the figurations of contemporary women assuming the shape of Matriarchs who look back at classical Myths, while forwarding their influences to contemporary mythologies. These figurations emerge from the waters of la Mer or the Mediterranean Sea, affected by the traces of death, shipwrecks, dispersions, missed arrivals and infinite exiles that characterise the present of this sea of migration, and, at the same time, by the signs of life constituted by creative passions affirming the movement, the freedom, the discovery and the experimentation, the courage, the rhythms, the visions, dances and drawings, of the inventive re-elaborations of art.
How could we forget the – fixed or mobile – images offered by Zineb Sedira, one of the many mothers of the Matriarchive, in her work devoted to the Mediterranean Sea? Her performative screens frame infinite series of abandoned ships, rusted carcasses, harbours, marine paths, one-way directions, exiles without return, that affect the actual condition of this sea, and, together, the celebration of ‘lighthouses’ which, in the liquid space that brings death and life together, illuminate the complex journey to be undertaken along the – colonial/postcolonial – traces of memory that need to be transformed into valuable indications of the future-to-come.
The Matriarchive of the Mediterranean would like to constitute a ‘lighthouse’ à la Sedira, allowing the ‘gathering’ (a word of deconstructive resonance) of feminine graphics and materials, expressing their archaic and experiential intelligence which is, at the same time, modern (a ‘different’ modernity from the canonical, Western male lineage) and contemporary, made of infinite forms and different directions.
Specifically, the Matriarchive claims the power of its Matrix which interrogates the origin and the belonging of femininity to Mother Nature, while dedicating to the care of those elements that provide a space for the transformation, the preservation and the dissemination of the – loved, desired, yet never fully possessed – Mother Tongue, inventively contaminated by the encounter with the experimental techniques of female contemporary performances.
This encounter marks the active, influent, and powerful deconstruction of some foundational oppositions embedded in the western male archive, which celebrates nature over technology, the origin vs. the future. Working out its difference, the Matriarchive of the Mediterranean wants to generate, as its privileged destination, a passion for Matter in a double sense: first, by constructing a platform for the interaction and processual analysis of the questions that ‘matter’ to the female interest; second, by concentrating on the use of ‘mater-ials’ that invent alternative and sustainable practices of conservation and recycling the cultural and artistic heritage of female artists practicing in the Mediterranean.