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Before YouTube and Indymedia: Cultural memory and the archive of video collectives in Germany in the 1970s and 1980s

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Collective film-making practice in Germany is still a blind spot in film historiography. During the 1970s and 1980s independent film and video workshops established a nationwide network to provide ‘counter information’ (Negt/Kluge) in order to challenge dominant media representations. Therefore, the works of the video collectives can become a relevant source for historians and journalists alike. While the videos can be perceived as an important contribution to left-wing cultural memory, this memory of the various media practices of the last decades is currently fading away. The videotapes slowly disintegrate and as digitization is costly and time-consuming, many video productions will not survive. This has consequences not only for historiography, but also for the visual iconography of cultural memory. This article focuses on the archival practice of three workshops in Hamburg, the stronghold for German independent film-making after 1968: the Medienp√§dagogikzentrum (Centre for Media Pedagogy, 1973–), bildwechsel (1979–), the umbrella organization for women in media, culture and art, and die thede (1980–), an association of documentary film-makers. The examples show how archival practice can be conceptualized not only as part of the hegemonic national archive alone, but also as an act of counter-memory.

Keywords: Hamburg; film collectives; film historiography; minor cinemas; video; video activism; video art

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/seci.8.3.171_1

Affiliations: Halmstad University/Hamburg University

Publication date: May 18, 2012

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  • Studies in European Cinema provides an outlet for research into any aspect of European cinema and is unique in its interdisciplinary nature, celebrating the rich and diverse cultural heritage across the continent. The journal is distinctive in bringing together a range of European cinemas in one volume and in its positioning of the discussions within a range of contexts - the cultural, historical, textual, and many others.
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