“Archive” is a free reproduction of the mausoleum in the town of Port Bou, Spain. Port Bou is a border town in the North -East part of Spain on the border with France. Walter Benjamin died there in 1940 in unusual circumstances (suicide or some kind of accident) while trying to escape from the Nazis. He was buried in the local cemetery in Port Bou, but outside of the cemetery’s fence. As his burial place was marked with a headstone, it is possible to locate his grave.
The mausoleum in the local cemetery in Port Bou has a spectacular facade. The dead are buried in ground-level rows and, above those rows, on several levels. The only part, which is exposed to the viewer, is a niche of very limited space. There is no presence, whatsoever, of the full size of the deceased. The facade covers the contents. In every niche there is a very limited space. In this space, marble plaques can be placed with a deceased’s name, perhaps flowers or other items. Some of the flowers that are placed in the niches are artificial.
It is the sort of place which Walter Benjamin would have been happy to be buried “outside of”, I supposed.
“Archive” is a reproduction, which takes to the extreme the characteristic of the source: the facade has nothing behind it. It is empty of content. The item is the niches (Formica, imitation marble, artificial flowers and other elements) are all images produced by means of technical reproduction. This work is a link in the mausoleum project on which I have been working for many years. It is a kind of mausoleum within a mausoleum. The contents of the niches are parts that were left over from previous works, and have accumulated over the years. All of them create a gap between the source and the reproduction. “Archive” is a kind of inventory of my previous work and replaces some of that work in a more accurate context.
The work has an Israeli aspect to it: the Israeli artist, Danny Karavan, created a monument commemorating Walter Benjamin close to the Benjamin’s burial place. “Archive” is also dedicated to Walter Benjamin and can be seen as a sort of monument. It is a monument whose continued existence is doubtful, even in the short run.