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Archivio – The Challenge Issue n° 01
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Editorial
(p. 5)


The first and largest archive in history is our brain, and we start filling it up the moment we come into the world. Facts, information, smells, colours, words, sounds, faces: as soon as we are born, we are busy with the meticulous work of accumulation. An archive is a place that is always alive, wherever you find yourself. To create this magazine, we therefore ventured into those archives that fascinated us first and foremost as places: ancient palazzi, vaults, rooms crammed full of shelves, places brimming over with history—not always silent and sometimes teetering bravely on the verge of collapse.
We met the archivists—a group of people who elude easy labeling, because they need to be part-scientist and part-detective—as well as the scholars, technicians, software experts, cultural work enthusiasts and organisation lovers. This magazine was created to give voice to them and to their work. We discovered that their talents run the gamut from safeguarding mysteries to inspiring pop musicians and that they collect absolutely everything—even hairdos. And we fell in love with digging through their collections to bring you the stories you will find in here. It’s the beginning of a journey through the collective memory, which we hope can also be a key to deciphering the present.
Archiving is an art—and in fact, art has made archiving one of its grand obsessions, almost a new genre unto itself, a marvelous memory game of carefully preserved artifacts: the maniacal care with which Damien Hirst catalogued hundreds of fake archeological finds, ancient coins, jewelry, jars and statuettes recovered from the shipwreck of an ancient ship that never existed in Treasures From The Wreck comes to mind. But archiving is part of our daily life too. Possessed with the enthusiasm of the amateur, we are constantly archiving without even realising we’re doing it—our social media photos, our work emails, the messages on our phones, the receipts from our card payments, the files hosted in online folders: compulsive lists that reveal who and what we are. The pressure from the digital world has made archiving become almost fashionable over the last few years, giving birth to enthralling discussions of the risks that virtual memory entails or the importance of knowing what to select from the mountain of information which is constantly circulating.
Archives are important because they tell stories—our stories. And they will continue to do so, perhaps, even after we are extinct: while we were working on the magazine, the film Blade Runner 2049 came out: its near-future world where all online information has been lost forever because of a blackout, leaving the contents of the old material archives as the only memories, has remained with us like a lucky charm.
 
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