The Surplus of Copying. How Shadow Libraries and Pirate Archives Contribute to the Creation of Cultural Memory and the Commons

by Cornelia Sollfrank

This text is a commission by the research project “original copy,” based at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and has been published on their website.

Digital artworks tend to have a problematic relationship with the white cube—in particular, when they are intended and optimized for online distribution. While curators and exhibition-makers usually try to avoid showing such works altogether, or at least aim at enhancing their sculptural qualities to make them more presentable, the exhibition Top Tens featured an abundance of web quality digital artworks, thus placing emphasis on the very media condition of such digital artifacts. The exhibition took place at the Onassis Cultural Center in Athens in March 2018 and was part of the larger festival Shadow Libraries: UbuWeb in Athens,1 an event to introduce the online archive UbuWeb2 to the Greek audience and discuss related cultural, ethical, technical, and legal issues. This text takes the event—and the exhibition in particular—as a starting point for a closer look at UbuWeb and the role an artistic approach can play in building cultural memory within the neoliberal knowledge economy.

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