The Political Significance of Archives in Sudan

Larissa-Diana Fuhrmann curated an exhibition as part of the Hamburg Short Film Festival

Ausstellung Fragile traces: Archives in times of conflict

© Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg, Claudia Höhne

Artists, architects and filmmakers in Sudan in particular are trying to preserve the demo­cratic spirit of optimism that emerged after the fall of Suda­nese dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019. Digital and analogue private archives play an important role in this, docu­menting the diverse political and cultural events in the country during these years. In contrast to state archives, they also preserve evid­ence of human rights violations, conflicts and acts of resis­tance. In April 2023, the democratic move­ment came to an abrupt end and the hope for trans­formation was stifled. Since then, the battle between the Sudanese army (SAF) and the para­military Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has forced many millions of people to flee their homes. 

As part of the Hamburg Short Film Festival, Larissa-Diana Fuhrmann curated the exhi­bition “Fragile traces: Archives in times of conflict” and moderated a panel discuss­ion on the topic. The architect and designer Zainab Gaafar, Mohammed Munaf, manager of the archiving project “Sikka” initiated by the Goethe-Institut Sudan, and the photo­grapher and film­maker EytharGubara discussed the challenges asso­ciated with the protection and use of archives and their role in pre­serving cultural heri­tage and fostering a future charac­terised by diversity.  

“In view of the current situation, artists have inten­sified their creative activi­ties in order to document, preserve and share their views and experien­ces during the war and share them with the world. In doing so, they transform their experienc­es of direct and indirect violence and bring them closer to a broader public. Through photo­graphy, film, painting and other medias, they create fragile but profound testi­monies that record narratives, emotions and truths that are crucial to pres­erving their nation's identity. The absence of indepen­dent journalists is compen­sated by the work of artists.” (Larissa-Diana Fuhrmann) 

Larissa Fuhrmann has curated a number of exhibi­tions, published several books and articles in specialized journals, advised institut­ions and led work­shops on critical cura­torial practices and politically motivated art.