A Virtual Memorial Foundation
A Virtual Memorial Foundation
is a media art project environment dealing with memory and commemorative aspects in form of a virtual foundation initiated, created and curated by Agricola de Cologne, who is also the President of A Virtual Memorial Foundation.
A Virtual Memorial Foundation incorporates all artistic projects by Agricola de Cologne based on an humanitarian background, dealing with the main topic “memory & identity” and new contemporary forms of commemorating by sensitizing people via art.
By establishing himself as a virtual artist on 1 January 2000, Agricola de Cologne released A Virtual Memorial Foundation as the first artistic context created for the net aimed to keep vivid the memory of collective memory & trauma via artistic interventions. During the first years exclusively online, but since 2003 increasingly in an exchange between virtual and physical space.
The project became this way “The International Center for Commemorative Interventions”. It got a particular relevance when Agricola de Cologne created the project context “Draft Title: Shoah”, a continuation of the topic of Holocaust he had started 1993 with the physical memorial project “A Living Memorial” and its manifestations 1995-1999. For the physical manifestations of Shoah Film Collection as a central part of “Draft Title: Shoah“, a new department has been established “AVMCI – A Virtual Memorial Center for Commemorative Interventions”, an experimentzal event structure placing the collection of artistic and documentary films and videos into the context of complementary interventions, such as lectures, screenings, exhibitions, performances of different kind kind, a symposium, artists meetings, artists talks an much more, in order to activate the artists, as well as the audience. From the point of view of Agricola de Cologne, it is this activation on the level of art, this is good for the artiosts as creators and the audience as recipients of art, which has the main relevance for fulfilling the goals of this initiative.
The project “A Virtual Memorial Foundation” would not exist without the turbulent history behind starting with the Fall of the Berlin Wall 1989, opening the doors to the Eastern part of Europe. Actually by coincidence, Agricola de Cologne founded earlier in 1989, the charitable society ARCHA Society (Archives and Research for Contemporary Humanism and Art) which was established an a charitable organisation at the court exactly on 9 Novemver 1989, when the Wall in Berlin was falling causing the collapse of the Communist systems in the East of Europe. As the President of ARCHA Society, Agricola de Cologne suddenly found himself involved in historical processes with a global relevance, and became active as the organiser and curator of the projects to be realised in an cultural exchange between Eastern and Western Europe. The first project was the International ARCHA Conference in Goerlitz/Germany directly situated at the Polish boarder (2-5 May 1991). Standing under the Patronage of the Prime Minister of Saxony Prof. Dr. Kurt Biedenkopf (see listed on the right), this conference and its organisation became a key experience for Agricola de Cologne, basically because he changed his position as an activist in art from a creative artist to a creative causing intensive travel activities to the Eastern European countries. AIn first place, he was establishing contacts to cultural institutions in the former Communist countries, but via the travelling he was increasingly confronted with the German history on the ground of these coutries, and visiting the memorial sites of former concentrations camps like Auschwitz, Majdanek or Terezin had a lasting shocking effect, so that Agricola de Cologne felt the need to reflect his experiences in taking responsibility as a German artist born after World War II.
The result of these artistic reflections was the project “1000 Years, 50 Years an Still so Terribly Young”, (1000 years was standing for the 1000 years lasting 3rd Reich of Adolf Hitler – lasting in reality only 12 years, “50 years” was standing for 50 years after World War II , and “terribly young” was standing for the fresh revitalized Neo-Nazi ideology which was manifesting itself daoly at that time not only in Germany , but in whole Europe, a project he created for being presented in 1995 after the inauguration in Cologne at 10 Polish museums on occasion of the 50th return of the end of World War II in 1995 as his personal contribution for a reconciliation with the Jewish, but also the Polish people.
This project , subtitled: Memorial project against the Forgetting, Racism, Xenophobia and Antisemitism”, was standing under the Patronage of the late President of the Central Jewish Council of Germany, Ignatz Bubis, see listed on the right –> http://www.a-virtual-memorial.org/bubis/documentation.htm This mobile multi-facetted memorial project was installed exactly 43 times, in Poland, Czech Repuiblik, Belgium and Germany, before in September 1998 a basic part of this project had been destroyed in an act of mad vandalism.
Initiated and launched on 1 January 2000, AVM Foundation represents the “mother” of the entire global Internet based network in which Agricola de Cologne is realising his ideas of dealing with memory and art in virtual and physical space in most different ways.
AVM Foundation started in 2000 with daily, weekly and monthly changing features, presenting selected memorial days on a global level and associated information, texts, articles and especially multi-media works created for these occasions by Agricola de Cologne, further invited online art projects by external artists.
This way, during the first three years – 2000-2002 – A Virtual Memorial offered views on how people in different parts on the globe are/were dealing with “memory” based on different cultures, religions and social backgrounds. These diaries are still online and can be accessed via the artistic body of “A Virtual Memorial”
A Virtual Memorial and its aims formed basically also the motivation to restart creating art works again after the attack in 1998. All later started projects are rooted deeply in A Virtual Memorial, reflecting memory in all its facets dealing with the newly acquired perceptions as ongoing processes.
As such an ongiong “process”, A Virtual Memorial is hosting several individual memorial projects like “Memorial for the Victims of Terror” (2001), “Memorial for the Victims of AIDS” (2002) or “Tsunami Memorial” (2005), aimed to create memorial space not only surrounding people, but inside of people. The Internet as a gigantic memory itself seemed to be the best and only place for realising such a kind of projects.
Engad.org is basically running projects commemorating collective trauma – like “Shoah”, the military dictatorships in Latin America and CTF _ Collective Trauma Film Collections, initiated, created, curated, coordinated and programmed by Wilfried Agricola de Cologne.
NewMediaFest is running a couple of commemorative projects based on new media technologies – like Violence Online Festival (2002-2004) and [R][R][F] 200X –> XP – representing milestones in Agricola de Cologne’s new approach in dealing with commemorative concepts in a most contemporary way way-
Particularly the festival component of NewMediaFest brought the project unexpected developments and perspectives, starting with Violence Online Festival in 2002, a project environment dealing with the countless facets of violence.
In 2003, the main activities were focussed on the new “project RRF environment” (Remembering -Repressing-Forgetting), which he created on invitation of the Biennale of Electronic arts in Perth/Australia 2004. The global networking project [R][R][F]2004—>XP started a new type of new media art working as a result of global collaboration and networking manifested not only in numerous subordinated projects, but also more than 50 presentations in physical space in most different constellations.
As a project itself, A Virtual Memorial is award winning as the best foreign multi-mediaproject on Computer Space Festival Sofia /Bulgaria 2001. Numerous projects realized in the framework of A Virtual Memorial received prizes and awards, but participated as whole or in parts in numerous media art exhibitions and festival around the globe.
In 2003, Agricola de Cologne started the collaboration with Raquel Portnoy from Argentina, one of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, active in overcoming the military dictatorships in Argentina – resulting the memorial projects “Family Portrait” (2003-2005) and “Women-Memory of Repression in Argentina” – a tribute to the Mothers of Palaza de Mayo (2004-2005)
One of the main reasons, why Agricola de Cologne entire work is dealing with “memory & identity” and the main topic, was his own loss of memory caused by the several months lasting coma 1999 as the result of the terror attack 1998. Dealing with the reconstruction of his own personal memory after this profound victimization, had the effect that history generally became a most prominent issue in the conceptual development of “Agricola de Cologne” as a media art project. Dealing with the new context of “A Virtual Memorial Foundation” became an experimenting in defining himself as an artist who was focussing his artistic (but virtual work) at least in parts on curating. Curating, eg taking responsibility in a social context (A Virtual Memorial, JavaMuseum, VideoChannel and the numerous other projects) became his new artistic expression – virtual and physical alike – , whereby the difference between am museum curator and his curatorial activities became obvious online, as well as in the physical manifestations, because the conditions and motivations are fundametally different, while the visually perceivable result might be similiar.
Between 2004 and 2014, Agricola de Cologne was running for 10 years, CologneOFF – Cologne International Videoart Festival, establishing his very personal point of view on this exciting artistic medium of digital video, it was just a matter of time, that the artist was using this favourite medium also for a major “A Virtual Memorial” context.
In 2009, he initiated the project “Draft Title: Shoah” and in 2010 he established “Shoah Film Collection” a worldwide unique media art & peace initiative adressed to young generations of artists and film makers to deal artistically with SHOAH and collective trauma caused by totalitarianism by using new perceptions and technologies in order to keep vivid the memory by senstizing people via art. In 2012, AVMCI – A Virtual Memorial – International Center for Commerative Interventions was activated providing an experimental event context for the physical and virtual manifestations of Shoah Film Collection. Each manifestation of this unique expanding collection of art films and videos is taken as a starting point for discussing how the memory of the collective trauma can be transferred to future generations via new technologies in art, each time in a different way.
Founded in 2012, CTF Collective Trauma Film Collection is initiating currently essential contents – besides Shoah Film Collection, Cambodia 1975-1979 (2012), “Never More! Hiroshima- Fukushima” (2015) and “Refugee!” (2016).
From 2016, the new exhibition project “://self~imaging – artists show face against Intolerance, Racism, Xennophobia and Anti-Semitism” wil be standing in the focus of commerating Past, Present & Future.
A Virtual Memorial Foundation
President: Wilfried Agricola de Cologne