"It is what is happening, right here, when a house, the Freuds' last house, becomes a museum: the passage from one institution to another." (Jacques Derrida, 'Archive Fever')
Presented as a gift to the Freud Museum, Jacques Derrida's 1994 lecture 'Archive Fever' remains a compelling work for scholars and artists interested in the relationship between archives, memory, and technology.
Originally titled 'The Concept of the Archive: A Freudian Impression', Derrida's deconstruction of the act of archiving beautifully opens up the contradictory nature of archives: how they are simultaneously public and private spaces, institutive and conservative, traditional and revolutionary. To mark the 20th anniversary of the lecture, the 'archive' at the centre of Derrida's thinking - the Freud Museum - invited a number of academics who attended the lecture to recall their memories of it, offer their interpretations of the work, and explore its continued relevance today.
The panel included Riccardo Steiner (Psychoanalyst and speaker at the original conference), Prof. Sarah Wilson (Courtauld Institute, where the conference was held), Prof. Dany Nobus (Brunel University), Dr. Forbes Morlock (Syracuse University), Julia Borossa (Middlesex University) and Michael Molnar (Former Director of the Freud Museum and principal conference organizer).
"Derrida sees in Freud's writing the very desire that is Archive Fever: the desire to recover moments of inception: to find and possess all sorts of beginnings." (Carolyn Steedman, 'Dust')
In addition to the panel discussion, experts from different academic disciplines explained the importance of 'Archive Fever' to their work.
Contributions included talks by Prof. Carolyn Steedman (Emeritus Professor of History at Warwick University, and author of Dust: The Archive and Cultural History), Dr. Beverley Butler (Senior Lecturer at UCL's Institute of Archaeology), and Professor Jérôme Lèbre (Paris)
The event was curated by Guy Atkins (Doctoral Researcher at Goldsmiths and the Museum of London) and was recorded by James Bulley (Doctoral Researcher at Goldsmiths, University of London).
Michael Molnar is a former Director of the Freud Museum. He worked at the Museum from just before its opening in 1986 until 2009, and was Director from 2003 to 2009. In 1994 he was one of the key organizers of the "Memory - A Question of Archives" conference at which Derrida gave the 'Archive Fever' lecture.
Forbes Morlock is a lecturer at Syracuse University, London. He has published widely on hospitality, friendship, seduction, and the uncanny—as well as the writing of Derrida, Rancière, and Freud. In 2009, he published “Freud and the Gift of Flowers” with the artist Sharon Kivland. He has taught at Syracuse University for more than 20 years.
Julia Borossa is Director of the Centre for Psychoanalysis at Middlesex University. She is a longtime collaborator of the Freud Museum, a collaboration that has involved conferences and publications, such as the book Psychoanalysis, Fascism, and Fundamentalism. Her ongoing research and publications centre on the politics and remit of the psychoanalytic movement.
Riccardo Steiner is a psychoanalyst. He has written extensively on the cultural and sociopolitical context of psychoanalysis. He worked for many years in the Archive of the British Psychoanalytical Society, and was its honorary archivist from 2001 till 2005. In 2001 he was awarded the Sigourney Prize for his contribution to psychoanalysis.
Dany Nobus is Professor of Psychology and Psychoanalysis at Brunel University London, where he also directs the MA Programme in Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Society. He is the Chair of the Freud Museum, and has published numerous books and papers on the history, theory, and practice of psychoanalysis.
Professor Sarah Wilson is an art historian and curator at the Courtauld Institute. Her interests extend from postwar and Cold War Europe and the USSR to contemporary global art. In 1994, she hosted the “Memory - A Question of Archives” at the Courtauld Institute.
Title: Beginning Archive Fever
Professor Carolyn Steedman is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Warwick. Her most recent book, An Everyday Life of the English Working Class, was published in December 2013. In relation to Derrida, she is best known for her 2001 book, “Dust – The Archive and Cultural History”.
Title: Heritage fevers, archival turns & 'just' futures from Alexandria to Jerusalem
Dr Beverley Butler is Director of the M.A. in Cultural Heritage at UCL and a Senior Lecturer in Cultural Memory Studies. Her research focuses mainly in the Middle East, engaging in ethnographies of cultural heritage projects in Alexandria, Jerusalem, and the West Bank.
Title: Living as an archive: from a Freudian impression to the Freudian character
Jérôme Lèbre is Professor of Philosophy at Saint Quentin. He has published extensively on the work of Jacques Derrida, most recently in his book ‘Derrida: la justice sans condition’, published in 2013.