story: from the archive

From the Archive: Sound, Silence and the Document

Hito Steyerl’s Uneasy Relationship with The Document

Art has its origins in silence. Descriptions of art - or specifically painting - as silent poetry are very old indeed: Painting itself pre-dates language. It is partly from its silence that art derives its power and, until the critical teleological investigations of the 20th Century, the silent painting or sculpture had a particular relationship to truth. Representational art appeared to show us reality as it is. It was the invention of photography and then film – among many other developments at the turn of the century – that radically changed this relationship. The documentary quality of these new inventions (especially film, with its addition of sound) meant that traditional media could no longer be the closest or most faithful mirrors of reality.


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I cannot promise you that you will ever be happy.
Some days, you will wake up for no apparent reason. You’ll wish you hadn’t.
Other days, you’ll trace your battle scars with your fingers,
wishing they were blades, matches, razors, cigarettes instead.
You will still use your heart as your personal ashtray,
extinguishing the boys who mean nothing.
Living is hard. Did no one tell you?
Life is messy, but not as messy as you at 3 in the morning
black out drunk, stumbling for your keys and self-esteem.
I cannot promise you that you will ever be happy.
But some days, you’ll wake up smiling, snuggling into his collarbone
and thank whatever god you praise that you did.
Other days, you’ll trace the smile lines on your grandmother’s face,
counting the ones that belong solely to you.
You will feel your heart beat like a drum against your chest, begging to be freed.
He means everything.
Life is still messy, but never as messy as poising your soul with drugs or sticking the barrel of your personal gun down your throat.
—  Michelle K., Promises I Can’t Keep.
The Secret Story of the Establishment of ‘E Archives’

K Case Files of Blue Side Episode by Miyazawa Tatsuki (Red)
Taken from Leaflet B of the Animate K Stamp Rally Campaign

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I didn’t just want you to fuck me,
I wanted you to use me. Like I used you,
like he used me.
I didn’t get greedy, not all at.
I didn’t want you to love me.
I’ve been warning against it since the day we met.
I’m far too imbalanced
and neurotic
and mean
and careless
and rash and loud and out of control.
I’m happy you left. I’m happy you got out alive.
I’m happy you survived this,
God knows I won’t.
—  Michelle K., Two

George Harrison, photographed for BRAVO magazine, issue 01/1970, by Wolfgang Heilemann

“That’s hard to define. I’m life really, spiritually and mystically. I’m life and life is either up or down, in or out, left or right. It’s like the North Pole, there has to be a South Pole. You can’t have one without the other. Life is like the waves on the ocean. Always chopping and changing, and we are at the mercy of the ocean unless we are anchored. We’re like little boats on the surface of life. Some people are securely anchored. Now, as each day goes by, I feel myself becoming more and more securely anchored. The real me is… the real you… and the real him.” - George Harrison in response to the question, “Who is George Harrison?”, 16 April 1969 [x]

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

—  Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” appeared in the August 1915 issue of The Atlantic. Read Frost’s Three Poems, and tweet your favorite poems to @TheAtlantic with the hashtag #NationalPoetryMonth


what a disgusting word.
it rolls off your tongue like a compliment,
like my body is anything but disgusting.
i despise this word.


ignores my irregular diet,
my old scars,
my poor heart as it
wheezes throughout the day,
the bad dreams,
the suffering.


i’d much rather be


—  Michelle K., Nine

We are finally over. How does it feel
to say those words? To realize whatever we say
won’t make a fucking difference
because I can’t stand to see your face anymore.
This relationship is dead.
With it, dies my freshman year,
my nights crying over you,
and feeling insignificant.
But also with it, dies my love,
the butterflies I used to get,
the words that are so sweet I’d rather hold
them in my stomach.

Everything is over. I’m no longer choked
by that feeling that we will never work out.
I know the end of the story. I skipped to the
last page. You hate me for it.

—  Michelle K., Twelve.