…und so deutet das Chor auf ein geheimes Gesetz…  —Goethe

If in one respect the figure of Roberto Valaco evokes the image of an archivist without an archive—an archon cast out from his arkheion—we might just as soon construe his “banishment” as a willing circumvention of the strictures proper to the archive, inasmuch as any archive embodies the seat of order, of record, and of origin. Hence, to break free of the arkheion is perhaps to deny its power, to disavow its authority, to confute the spurious necessity of its existence.

Indeed, Valaco’s archive exists–if it exist–chiefly in its dispersion, its insinuation, its constitutive anarchy (etymologically, ‘anarchy’ means “without order,” but also “without place” and “without beginning”). For that reason, the analyst of the Valaco Archive must contend with a host of singular complexities; together, they call for a mode of interpretation uniquely adapted to such conditions. Perhaps inevitably, one is first impelled to turn to that method known as archaeology, by which the traces of a past order of existing things are sifted and culled from those very things as and where we chance upon them in the present (we call this present place and these present things “the archive”), so that one may derive in and from them a knowledge of the present cast as a field of ever proliferating histories. Yet it is no less fervently away from that method that we must also turn, in order to assemble—without ever precisely realizing—the statements, images, and practices that would comprehend this placeless, ungoverned archive without origin… this anarchive that is the other presence of the Valaco Archive.[1]

Here, then, is the anarchaeolog of the Valaco Archive project: the divers, intrinsically provisional results of an anarchival hermeneutics—an anarchaeology, if you will—aimed at generating, in the virtual present, a history for which no system, no order, no visible or material past yet exists.


[1] While versions of the term “anarchive” predate the Valaco Archive Project (and have begun to proliferate in various intellectual domains), our usage here diverges from, without altogether disregarding, the sense implied by the anarchivic or anarchiviolithic function of the death drive invoked by Derrida in Archive Fever. By the same token, our concept of the anarchival is to be articulated with–and distinguished from–that of Lia Brozgal, a scholar of Francophone literature currently at work on a rigorous theoretical construction of the term as it relates to cultural productions operating under specific conditions, namely the denial of public access to existing official archives. Finally, mention is due the work of German media theorist Siegfried Zielinski, for whom Michel Foucault’s term archaeology, deliberately invoked here, already connotes the sense of an an-archaeological method. Indeed, the underlying approach of the Valaco Archive project resembles Zielinski’s model of media archaeology (or variantology), insofar as it is founded upon an-archaeological principles, that is, on the idea that media across time and space must be understood in terms of their non-linear, multi-directional genealogies.