The Archive

The TOMIKO Archive contains exclusively amateur photographs that I have collected since 2001 with an inventory I established in 2006. Currently, the archive holds about 500,000 pictures, mainly from twentieth-century Germany.

I collect these photographs on the streets, from flea markets, and I receive some through a »secret deliverer.« My aim in doing so comes from a very emotional instinct: to preserve life histories that are so carelessly thrown away. That’s why the convoluted thought is so important to me. There are no separated photographs in theTOMIKO Archive;the original bundles and their legacies stay together.
After collecting the photographs, I categorize and digitalize them. Often the TOMIKO Archivebecomes a source of inspiration for other works, like the present archive drawings, which I see as a way to create an inventory of the first impression of each image. Each first impression and its drawing takes exactly five minutes.

The central idea is to preserve an alternative history and histories and carry them into the present: How do historical facts and fiction mix when we look at these pictures? How do we become cowriters of collective history, writing over the decades, and which history do we want to tell? What has not yet been told? And how can we read this in a single photograph, or an entire amateur photography archive? And what happens if we confront these stories with the present? What do they tell us about the present?