The Beach looks back on their participation in the Archieftraject
Cultural institution The Beach is one of eight participants in the Archieftraject 2022, a professionalisation program for cultural institutions and makers in which they learn how to take care of their archives. As the trajectory is drawn to a close, it's time to look back on their participation and process.
11 April 2023
To the rear of the space of cultural development hub The Beach, there are three black cabinets. Open their doors and you see brown cardboard boxes; written them in large letters is the word ‘archive’. Co-director Teike Asselbergs-Aşcıoğlu has to laugh when she talks about it: “It’s like something out of Jiskefet [the Dutch answer to Monty Python]. Someone once took a box and labelled it our archive box. Just like we also have a coffee box and a pencil box.” Meanwhile, the archive of the Amsterdam space has grown considerably. If you put all the boxes full of collected flyers, posters, scripts, project plans and subsidy applications next to each other, you can make a line 10 metres long. Add to that the digital drive with folders full of photos and the countless three-dimensional objects, and you can imagine that the door to the ‘archive’ boxes closed a long time ago.
Capturing a legacy
Until last autumn, that is, when Teike started the Archieftraject [Archive Trajectory] under the guidance of performing arts network Podiumkunst.net and the Network Archives Design and Digital Culture (NADD). The reason her to take part in the professionalisation process was the imminent departure of The Beach frontwoman Diana Krabbendam. Teike will take over from her in a few years. “Diana knows so much,” she says, “she has been through so much. I want to capture that legacy properly.” Since its foundation in 2007 by Diana and others, The Beach has developed projects with a cultural and social impact. They are about making together, “about creating and exploring local relationships between people,” Teike explains. Just like the beach from which the organisation derives its name, The Beach invites people to come together: children, women and older people from the neighbourhood can come here for design workshops, making sessions and cooking evenings.
A cultural hub in the capital
Sixteen years of research and activity: start filing that systematically. Initially, Teike had no idea where to start: “If you’ve got ten metres of material and no background in archiving, then you just don’t know where to start.” During an Archieftraject workshop which encouraged participants to think about the target group of their archive, she found a starting point: Amsterdam City Archives. Collaborating with the City Archives seemed a logical step. It would make The Beach’s material easily accessible to the researchers, artists and local residents whom it considers to be its target group.
“ When you know who your archive is for, you realise how you can best access that archive. ”
If you search the Amsterdam City Archives for ‘Osdorp’, you soon come across all kinds of documents from The Beach. The cultural hub immediately contributes to adding to the completeness of the city archives, where little can currently be found about this Amsterdam neighbourhood, says Teike.
Archives as collaborations
Because sharing is an important principle for The Beach, a second archive collaboration is also in the works. This year, The Beach is developing activities for children and young people together with the Amsterdam Museum. Teike hopes that the objects made in those workshops will find a place in the museum collection. “In the City Archives, which focuses more on paper and other ‘flat’ carriers, we can then refer to the museum, which focuses more on three-dimensional objects,” she explains.
Organising these collaborative archives raises some very practical questions. How do you use archive folders? And what terms do you use to describe the condition of your objects? “The great thing about the Archieftraject is that it gives you space to acquire this kind of really concrete know-how,” says Teike. She already has a tip for makers and institutions starting work on an archive: make sure that you know the names of the photographers and people featured on every photo in the collection. “At The Beach we work a lot with visual archive material, because we are an organisation where co-design is central,” she says. “But we don’t yet have permission to publish the photos from all the people who appear in them. Of the people in photos that we have published, yes, but often not the people in the photos of our own documentation. So if our photos go to the Amsterdam City Archives, they have to be looked at very carefully.”
Programmes from then to now
While these days Teike leafs through all kinds of papers to find out such formalities, she regularly comes across projects from the past that are still relevant today. Brood en taal [Bread and Language], for example: a weekly programme in which women from the neighbourhood could learn Dutch while kneading and baking bread. “We would like that project to return,” says Teike, “and by working with our archive, we can find out more precisely how those meetings worked.”
It’s also nice to be able to fall back on programmes from the past when applying for subsidies, she notes. “We’re currently setting up a new fashion programme for young people. Then it’s good to be able to show that we’ve also done a lot with fashion in the past – that it isn’t just coming out of nowhere.” The Beach hopes to soon make a physical timeline based on their archive, on which visitors can immediately see what has happened and what been created in the organisation so far.
Don’t leave the door to your archive closed
Teike adds that taking part in the Archieftraject has also made it clear what is still missing from The Beach’s archive. For example, the organisation develops many different research methods; a source of knowledge that, as far as she is concerned, should come to the surface a little more in the archive. She also found out that although The Beach has a lot of contact with all kinds of people in the area, few of the stories of all those people have been preserved. “Everything is done in the form of a production with us, so wouldn’t it be really interesting for us to collect more in speech or text form?” in the pipeline is a project in which researchers will interview older people in Osdorp in order to better preserve their stories. “By diving into your own archive, you feed yourself with new starting points for your future practice,” concludes Teike. “There is probably an insane number of organisations like ours that have such a box in their closet and have left the door closed for a while. But I would advise them to get started anyway.”
Text: Marsha Bruinen
Archive The Beach. Photo: Anna Klevan
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Archive The Beach. Photo: Anna Klevan
The Archieftraject [Archive Trajectory] is a path to professionalisation for cultural institutions and makers to learn how to take care of their archive. How do I map out what I have in house? How do I organise it easily? And what should I do if I want to share it with others, such as colleagues, researchers, other makers or the public? These are all questions that the participating design, digital culture and performing arts organisations will find answers to during the project’s five months.
The last Archieftraject ran from November 2022 to March 2023. Read more about the eight participating makers and organizations here.
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