Happy Ever After

16 Apr 2024 – 28 Apr 2024

Regular hours

10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00

Free admission

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Happily ever after - this is how fairy tales in English usually end. The Polish translation of długo i szczęśliwie (long and happily) assumes an end involved in it: although long, although happily, it is not forever.


The exhibition of the young Polish artist Paulina Tarara is based on the book Archive Fever by the philosopher Jacques Derrida. It opens up the theme of archiving in the light of new digital possibilities: the act of preserving information itself, but also the functions that archives perform and the power that is associated with them. At the very beginning, Jacques Derrida mentions the word archeion, from which the word archive comes. This Greek word means a house, a place of residence of officials, those who publicly give orders. It was at their headquarters that documents were deposited, of which they were the guardians, but they also had the right to dispose of these documents. Archons could interpret and manage these archives. The existence of an archive, according to Jacques Derrida, is simultaneous with the existence of a power that has the ability to name things and has a decisive influence on its content: what will be preserved for future generations and what will be forgotten. When considering contemporary attempts at archiving personality in the context of Jacques Derrida's concept of the archive, it is impossible not to notice the analogies occurring here. If we create digital Mindfiles and an avatar corresponding to our personality, we can distinguish five types of depositories:

1. Creators of the algorithm. The decisions made during the design and selection of the type of neural network, the appropriately selected training set and the test set shape the algorithm and its learning and decision-making abilities. They do not have knowledge about the specific archived person, but their decisions at the project stage influence the archiving method. 2.  Algorithm. Some algorithms, in certain situations, can develop the equivalent of trauma or fear of something caused by an external situation. Such aspects also influence how the algorithm learns to be a user. 3. Corporation. It owns the technology that enables the creation of an avatar. The software runs on its servers. It also has all the information about a given personality: its preferences, circle of friends, political views, decisions made when shopping, and even the way it speaks and reacts to specific situations. Currently, with a much lower level of information about users from social media, companies are able to manage data and build their fortunes using them. Recalling information about the deceased, manifested through interaction with the avatar by family and friends, takes place in an order imposed by the control (power) that the corporation has. 4. Family and friends. After the user's death, they become the direct custodians of the avatar. Recalling information by family and friends takes place on terms limited by the company's policy, within the regulations to which the person being archived has agreed. However, it is up to family and friends to decide whether they will have daily or only occasional interaction with the avatar. 5. Archived person. It depends on her/his decision whether archiving will take place at all and what elements of her/his life she/he will make available to her/his avatar. She/he disposes of an avatar and an information stored there in accordance with the contract she/he signed with the company providing the services.

Archivable content changes as technology evolves, and so does the archive itself. In the past, if one wanted to commemorate a specific person and their achievements, one could refer to the magazine and archive letters, memories, and press articles about that person. Then one began to refer to images and sounds in the form of audio and video recordings. Currently, work is underway on the possibility of recording behavior patterns of specific people. It is no longer a description of someone, it is not a fragment of personal reflections, it is a whole personality saved for future generations.

            An archive is only as good as the ways of saving it. The Mindfiles are no longer written sources, not photos, not even films - it is an opportunity to commune with what this man embodied: the knowledge she/he had, the character she/he displayed, everything that made up her/him and her/his life. Previously, there was only one-way transmission, but now it is slowly becoming possible to interact with the deceased.

            The alter ego will survive as long as the technology that enables it to exist does not become obsolete. This is a particular problem in maintaining data flow when old media are not compatible with new devices. In this case it is “heaven with an expiration dat”. The concept of Happy Ever After turns into “żyli długo i szczęśliwie” (long and happily but not forever).

What to expect? Toggle


Katarina Balunova

Exhibiting artistsToggle

Paulina Tarara


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