i. The Editor
“Today is Thursday, 10 December 2009. I woke up with a hangover and let Anuschka bring Luna to the kindergarten. Got out of bed at 10.30 a.m., made a salad and checked some emails, half of them misspelling my name. I haven’t written anything yet for Sabine’s essay. “This is the last footnote I write for this fucking book, Omar”, I swear to myself. Twelve minutes pass. Nothing happens. I get up and make coffee.”
Today is Thursday, 21 January 2016. In fact it isn’t, as I am writing this the day before, re-working the introduction to the guest editorship that is being announced ‘today’, née tomorrow; a parallel time always in anticipation of, and in relation to, its counterpoint. A preface.
“The practice [of editing] has been described as ‘invisible mending’, a metaphor I find discomforting as it tellingly describes, yet reinforces, the feminised, undervalued and misunderstood nature of the occupation.”
We, the guest editors, will be undertaking a residency of sorts. Our editorial programme will offer a parallel reading of the MAP archive, inviting both existing and new contributors to revisit, reexamine and reimagine the potentials of its content as a platform. Our medium: the footnote.
The project grew out of a shared interest in footnotes and their subversive potential to alter readings of ‘main’ textual bodies. It will explore approaches to the archive that interrogate and disrupt assumed hierarchies and conventions, the footnote acting as an active dialogical agent within both archival and newly commissioned content.
The potential agency of the footnote to alter the opacity of a textual or archival body also serves as an apt parallel interrogation of the role of the editor as an ‘invisible’ voice. By shifting the balance between background and foreground, footnotes can reveal synaptic relationships between the writing, reading and editing processes. Our intention is to spark new connections and stimulate fresh readings of the MAP archive by way of footnoting – a conversational layering between editor and content, contributor and archive, reader and platform.
“What you think is the point is not the point at all but only the beginning of the sharpness.”
An unravelling, a revisiting, a puncturing. The footnote extends and tests its remit, exploring boundaries and transgressing tenses. A running commentary. A catalyst for revised perspectives. An outsider. An insider. Dispelling truths, expanding histories, circulating rumours. What is the agency of the footnote? Is it a companion, a fraud, a query?
iv. End Note
“It is sometimes necessary to know where to stop.”
i. A footnote by Omer Fast in Sabine Schaschl’s ‘Preface’ to Omer Fast, In Memory (2009), p.7. The Green Box: Berlin.
ii. Wendy Richards, ‘Trauma, Dispossession and Narrative Truth: ‘Seeds of the Nation’ of South Sudan’ in Jane Goodall and Christopher Lee (eds.), Trauma and Public Memory (2015), p. 46. Palgrave Macmillan: London.
iii. Flann O’Brien, The Third Policeman (2001), p.72. Flamingo: London.
iv. Deborah Levy, Things I Don’t Want To Know (2014), p. 100. Penguin Books: London.
Footnoting the Archive is kindly supported by Creative Scotland. Special thanks to Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow and Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop.