Online Exhibition

14 September 2021, 08.00 - Ongoing


An Anecdoted Archive of Exhibition Lives

An impression of the online exhibition An Anecdoted Archive of Exhibition Lives, design: Sean van den Steenhoven for Leftloft

BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht presents An Anecdoted Archive of Exhibition Lives, an online exhibition conceptualized by Irit Rogoff and Nora Sternfeld for freethought collective.

What are the lives of exhibitions? Are exhibitions microcosms of the worlds one inhabits? Are exhibitions the sum of the works exhibited? The traces of the research done for them? The great issues they can point to? How does one think about exhibitions? What does one take away from them into other thoughts, other worlds?  meditation on how exhibitions leave a lasting influence, by means of an exercise in listening. The archive speaks to and about exhibitions which—albeit not equally recognized in terms of status or importance by conventional art history—have made a difference to the thinking and working practices of those who have encountered them, both then and now.

An Anecdoted Archive of Exhibition Lives assembles narratives of significant personal moments with exhibitions from 15 viewers from around the globe who together produce a veritable polyphony of revelation. Some of these exhibitions take place in institutions (museums and galleries) and others are institutions themselves (biennials and international fairs). By exceeding beyond the institutions that engendered them, they gain an independent life and link into the substance infrastructures of the viewers’ lives. This becomes evident as each contributor to the archive describes a pivotal moment in their life and a shift in their understanding through an encounter with a particular exhibition. In unhinging exhibitions from the idea that their worth is measured predominantly by their quantitative-economic impact, as has become customary, An Anecdoted Archive of Exhibition Lives asks viewers what they thought they saw; what they felt; what distant worlds were hinted at; and what meaningful things were revealed about their immediate environment.

An Anecdoted Archive of Exhibition Lives includes contributions by Zultan Ará, Kader Attia, Pedro Bandeira, Ruth Beckermann, Pedro Bernardo, Ivet Ćurlin, Relli De Vries, Elvira Dyangani Ose, Theo Eshetu, Farbod Fakharzadeh, Sanaa Gateja, Sara Gebran, Rocca Gutteridge, Jesse Jones, Doreen Mende, Inês Moreira, Niko Nurmi, Emily Pethick, Sarah Pierce, Carolina Rito, Irit Rogoff, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Nora Sternfeld, Bruno Zhu, and Joni Zhu. As an archive, An Anecdoted Archive of Exhibition Lives performs a counter-cartography of the art world, pointing out that significant experiences are enabled not by great international reputations or canonized and spectacular curation, but rather by the exhibition’s ability to affect people’s lives and change perceptions. In this spirit, the public is invited to contribute to An Anecdoted Archive of Exhibition Lives with video interviews about exhibitions that affected their lives. In order to join, please follow this protocol

An Anecdoted Archive of Exhibition Lives can be visited via this link from 14 September 2021. A program to launch the online exhibition, conceived by Irit Rogoff and Nora Sternfeld, takes place on 16 October 2021, from 15.00–18.30 hrs CEST at BAK, and includes presentations by, and conversations with freethought, artist Larry Achiampong, and curator and researcher Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock. The program can be followed both in person at BAK and online. See here for more information on how to join.

An Anecdoted Archive of Exhibition Lives was first presented as an exhibition at Bergen Assembly, Bergen in 2016. This digital rendering of the project has been realized by BAK in 2021 as part of the “Spectral Infrastructure” (2021−2023) research trajectory with freethought at BAK.

BAK’s activities have been made possible with the financial support of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the City of Utrecht.

BAK’s main partner in the field of education and research is HKU University of the Arts Utrecht.

Made possible by

Suggestions from the archive




26 September 2021

Fragments of Repair/Gathering VII

The seventh and final gathering of Fragments of Repair/Gatherings, consisting of a conversation between Kader Attia, BAK general and artistic director Maria Hlavajova, and BAK curator Wietske Maas, and marking the conclusion of the exhibition Fragments of Repair/Kader Attia with the opportunity to visit the exhibition in the presence of the artist.