Prompted by factors such as globalization, digitization and mediatization the role and impact of archives are currently undergoing decisive changes.

The changing role of the archive as political technology has impacted the understanding and conduct of contemporary warfare. Whereas military and states used to control the production of information about – and thus also mainstream news’ media coverage of – warfare, different actors now leak, mass-produce, -circulate, and -mobilize information across various media platforms.

While this change arguably reflects dynamic hierarchies within militaries and mediascapes, it also testifies to the fact that the archive has become a central, contested and uncertain technology of warfare.

We wish to address this changing archival role. In particular we are interested in inquiring into archives as integral, opaque, leaky and uncertain infrastructures in contemporary warfare, the multiple rationalities, spatialities and temporalities that organize them and render them operative, the signs and signals they emit, the interpretational logics that process them, the aesthetic genres they give rise to and the risks and uncertainties they pose. 

We suggest that the multiple flows of diverse digital streams of information comprising texts, images, sounds and bodies could be considered parts of a global (W)archive to which a potentially infinite number of actors may contribute information and draw from.

This new (W)archive gives rise to new questions:

  • How can we conceive of – and make use of – the notions of uncertainty, black box, transparency and opacity in relation to contents and infrastructures in war archives? 
  • How does the ever-increasing contestation of the evidence and truth-value of the image affect the practice of bearing witness to war?
  • How can we consider leaking and containing as forms of mediation?
  • Which new forms of cultural memories do we see emerging from distributed war archives?
  • What kind of counter-archives do they produce?
  • What are the temporalities of contemporary warfare?
  • Has the seemingly open-access quality of war archives led to democratization of the control mechanisms of archival inclusions and exclusions? Or has the traditional distribution of archival power merely taken on new, ever more opaque forms in today’s connective media culture?

Confirmed speakers

  • Susan Schuppli (Goldsmiths, University of London)
  • Anthony Downey (Birmingham City University)
  • Kevin McSorley (University of Portsmouth)
  • Mariam Ghani (Cooper Union School of Art)
  • Anders Engberg-Pedersen (University of Southern Denmark)
  • Louise Wolthers (Hasselblad Foundation) & Sarah Tuck (Gothenburg University, Valand Art Academy) 
  • Nisrine Boukhari


by Rabih Mroué & Hito Steyerl: “Probable title: zero probability” at The Danish National School of Theatre of Contemporary Dance (Per Knutzons Vej 5) on August 21 at 18:00.


Preliminary Programme

Monday, August 21

9:00-9-30: Welcome coffee

9.30-10.00: Introduction: Solveig Gade & Daniela Agostinho

10.00-12.30: Session 1

Chair: Daniela Agostinho

Kevin McSorley  (University of Portsmouth): “War, Archives and Embodiment”

Susan Schuppli (Goldsmiths, University of London): “Media as Conflict Zones”

12.30-13.30 - Lunch

13.30-15:00 - Session 2

Chair: Nanna Thylstrup

Anders Engberg-Pedersen  (University of Southern Denmark): “Event maps. The cartographic archive and the imagined futures of war”

18:00: Lecture-performance by Hito Steyerl and Rabih Mroué “Probable Title: Zero Probability” at DEN DANSKE SCENEKUNSTSKOLE (1h30 + 30’ Q&A moderated by Solveig Gade)

Tuesday, August 22

09.30-10.00:    Welcome coffee

10.00-12.30:    Session 3

Chair: Annie Ring

Anthony Downey (Birmingham City University): “The Archive as Alibi”

Mariam Ghani (Cooper Union School of Art): The Trespassers: Artists, Archives and Open Secrets

12.30-13.30:    Lunch

13:30-16:00: Session 4

Chairs: Solveig Gade & Ekaterina Kalinina

Louise Wolthers (Hasselblad Foundation) & Sarah Tuck (Gothenburg University, Valand Art Academy): “Watched by Drones. Photography and Surveillance in Art and Protest”

Nisrine Boukhari : “What you’ve been told is simulacra of simulacra”

15.00 - 15.15 Closing remarks: Kristin Veel

*Please sign up for the workshop and performance to Sayuri Alsman.


Daniela Agostinho, Solveig Gade, Nanna Bonde Thylstrup, Ekaterina Kalinina and Kristin Veel

Further information about Uncertain Archives