Ippocampo publication

I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME, curated by Kunst Vardo, 2017
The large ink-print photograph reading DONNE IN NERO CONTRO ——- is a fragment of the installation Ippocampo(Hippocampus), recently exhibited in Oslo in June 2016.
The title Ippocampo referred to a brutal police action against protesters that took place in Italy in 1960, in Reggio Emilia. [1] A pedestrian accidentally caught an audio recording of the event on a magnetic tape the same day of the demonstration. The tape was later published as a vinyl record for home distribution by the radical Italian magazine Le Vie Nuove.[2]
As a score of abstract noise sequences, the original tape recording was a sonic backdrop of street riots, police clashing, shots of tear gas and firearms on protesters. In planning the action against the organized resistance by a group of young workers, the police called the violent operation Operation Hippocampus, referring perhaps to the fragile confines of embodied memory, fear, and suppression of affects. In fact, the hippocampus is the part of the brain thought to be principally involved in storing short to long-term memories and in making those memories resistant to forgetting.In the installation, the sound montage remixes together the riotous sequence from the original tape-recording of the 1960, fused with a series of audio footage of anonymous demonstrations taken from digital archives available online. Through a DIY soundboard rack that I built as a sound sculpture, the sonic montage focuses on the escalation of physical thrust within the rioting. By blending the multiple levels of noise textures achieved by the original recording devices to the digital audio footage, new sonic textures emerged within the piece.
The structure of the rack is a built element frequently used in music performance as a mixing board for live effects. A similar electronic module, the ‘rack-mounted server’ is a built element used for storing and transmitting data records collected in data centers. The central core of our computer-based culture not only consists of cultural meanings but also carries the materiality of technical media: a ‘digital memory’. [3]
A large ink-jet photo print was shown together with the installation Ippocampo. The photo is of a banner from the early ’80s, with words written on a polyester fabric used on demonstrations. The banner was initially stored in one of the main Occupied Self-Managed Social Centers located in Genova, in Italy. It reads in Italian DONNE IN NERO CONTRO ——- (WOMEN IN BLACK AGAINST ——-), where the final part of the text is camouflaged within a fold. The 8-meter long banner belonged to a different group of women activists called Donne in Nero (Women in Black), part of an international action opposed to war and militarism.
The international movement Women in Black started in the ’80s in Jerusalem to protest against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and is still active today in different parts of the world. After several confrontations with the police, which attempted to destroy the banner along with other material belonging to the protestors, the banner was later reclaimed. Today, the textile piece is archived and preserved at the Associazione per un Archivio dei movimenti  (The Archive for Social Movements) located in Genova, in Italy. Here, un-historicized materials from activist movements and social rebellion are stored and preserved outside any specific governmental initiatives for preservation and it is publicly accessible.
On the material level, the banner remains a tool for protest in the culture of assembly, playing a central role in the politics of recognition. Still, the visual material culture of protest, objects as props for demonstrations are seemingly smaller and of less importance. Through the medium of visual recording,[4] the photograph of the banner activates a further process that is unfinished, and of new visibility. Hung on the wall the textile piece appears unvoiced. Photography, in this instance, is a silent material witness to a perspective of performativity and visibility, as well as an artwork documenting its means: stop wars and the thrones for patriarchy, stop white supremacy, stop police brutality.
The culture-of-visibility have shaped the storm of history[5]. While every struggle for visibility becomes bigger, the hidden counter-history of the lesser struggle becomes a small fragment underneath an ocean of accumulation, forming its own history of anonymous voices. It’s own archive.
In the concept of the archive, the written, storage or protected records emerge as a process of preservation or endurance. Traditionally, its constitution works as an apparatus of recollection, a place where histories are constructed from and put into a public record. In the ubiquity of the contemporary image systems, digital codes, image spam,[6] and files accumulation, the main task of materials recollection come into being in ‘the mode of fluctuation and dynamic access’;[7] images and sound, as well as all available recorded material – data – are both part of a hidden system of visibility.[8]
Within the ‘computer storage format,’ the materiality of the archive takes a different configuration: from a passive storage space, it becomes a complex generative space of algorithmic processes and configurations. [9] Wendy Hui-Kyong Chun refers to the ‘computer storage format’ as a system that constitutes invisible ubiquities in relation to memory. She also asserts that images transit and ‘proliferate at a time when their power to index reality is waning’. [10] What organizes their articulation and which political significance they generate according to unforeseen technologies, such as software and computation? The camouflaged – or veiled DONNE IN NERO CONTRO OGNI GUERRA (WOMEN IN BLACK AGAINST ALL WARS) text in the folded fabric brings together different connections among countries, struggles, and gender roles. Hence, the counter-history of the banner piece is a history of perpetual dispersion not part of a centralized archive.
[1] During the rioting in Reggio Emilia, 5 young protesters got killed by the police. The Hippocampus Operation first started in the city of Genova, in Italy, 7 days before the demonstration in Reggio Emilia.
[2] A full recollection and visual documentation of the activity of the magazine ‘Le Vie Nuove’ is documented at the AAMOD, the Archive of the Democratic and Labour Movement based in Roma. In 1969 the magazine published the audio recording with the material format of a vinyl record, using the possibility of home distribution as a form of protest. Emerging from the culture of recording and broadcasting, the vinyl publication combined a text of Pierpaolo Pasolini focused on the role of the police in the Operation ‘Ippocampo.’
[3] Erst Wolfgang, Digital memory and the archive (Electronic Mediations), edited and with an introduction by Jussi Parikka, 2013, University of Minnesota Press, 2013
[4] Jussi Parikka, Archival Media Theory An Introduction to Wolfgang Ernst’s Media Archaeology, in Erst Wolfgang, Digital memory and the archive, edited and with an introduction by Jussi Parikka, 2013, University of Minnesota Press, 2013
[5] Walter Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History, Les Temps Modernes, 1947
[6] Hito Steyerl, The Wretched of the Screen, Stenberg Press, E-flux Journal 2012
[7] Jussi Parikka, Archival Media Theory An Introduction to Wolfgang Ernst’s Media Archaeology, in Erst Wolfgang, Digital memory and the archive, edited and with an introduction by Jussi Parikka, 2013
[8] Wendy Hui-Kyong Chun, Programmed Visions, Software and memory, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England 2011
[9] Jussi Parikka, Archival Media Theory An Introduction to Wolfgang Ernst’s Media Archaeology, in Erst Wolfgang, Digital memory and the archive, edited and with an introduction by Jussi Parikka, 2013
[10] Wendy Hui-Kyong Chun, Programmed Visions, Software and memory, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England 2011