Shaina Anand is a filmmaker and artist, co-founder of CAMP, a collaborative studio based in Bombay that combines film, video, installation, software, open-access archives and public programming with broad interests in technology, film and theory. CAMP are co-initiators of the online footage archive Pad.ma and the cinema archive indiancine.ma.
Pad.ma is a web-based video platform and software that offers a practical technical and legal framework through which video footage can be shared, cited and reused. Pad.ma proposes that film and video-based "production" can be thought of as an expanded field of activity. For example, as a filmmaker publishing video that is not a film, a researcher probing documentary images, a film editor organizing footage using the archive, a writer commenting on one or many video pieces, an artist working online, or an institution offering material for public use. Pad.ma as an interpretative archive encourages recirculation and debate around material that is often easily forgotten. It was launched as a public website in 2008 and is a collaboration between members of CAMP, Alternative Law Forum and 0x2620.org. In 2013 this group announced indiancine.ma, which aims to act as an online encyclopedia for Indian cinema.
Egyptian-Lebanese artist Lara Baladi was born in Beirut, raised in Cairo and Paris, and educated in London. She has lived in Egypt since 1997. Her multidisciplinary practice encompasses photography, video, photo collages and digital montages, installations, architectural constructions, tapestries, sculptures and perfume. Baladi publishes and exhibits worldwide and is part of many private and institutional collections. During the 2011 Egyptian uprising, Baladi co-founded two media initiatives: Radio Tahrir and Tahrir Cinema. Tahrir Cinema served as a public platform to build and share a video archive on and for the revolution. Baladi has been a member of the Arab Image Foundation since its creation in 1997.
Ann Cvetkovich is Ellen Clayton Garwood Centennial Professor of English and Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Mixed Feelings: Feminism, Mass Culture, and Victorian Sensationalism (Rutgers, 1992); An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures (Duke, 2003); and Depression: A Public Feeling (Duke, 2012). She co-edited (with Ann Pellegrini) “Public Sentiments,” a special issue of The Scholar and Feminist Online, and (with Janet Staiger and Ann Reynolds) Political Emotions (Routledge, 2010). She has been coeditor, with Annamarie Jagose, of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. Her current writing projects focus on the current state of LGBTQ archives and the creative use of them by artists to create counterarchives and interventions in public history.
Joyce LeeAnn is a professional archivist and an artist. Her work lives at the intersection of those two spaces and aims to empower and heal. Her artistic mediums are writing, performance art and neo-burlesque. She received a BA in Writing and Literature from Naropa University via Hampton University. She received a MS in Library and Information Science with an Archives Certificate from Pratt Institute. And her ecdysiast training includes Brown Girls Burlesque’s Broad Squad Institute and Perle Noire’s Perlesque classes. joyceleeann.com
When I introduce myself as an archivist, I often have to provide a definition. This is not viewed as an inconvenience but an opportunity to make archives more accessible, and to introduce people to the power of preserving historical documents. (re)Defining 'Archivist' is an interactive, multi-media interpretive experience. In addition to working as a professional archivist, I explore the poetics of archival processing, and this presentation is about that intersection. It combines a performance with an archivist / artist talk and a makeshift exhibition of my archive.
Joana Craveiro is a PhD candidate at the Department of Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies of Roehampton University, in London, where she is currently researching performance and transmission of memory politics in dictatorial and post-dictatorial Portugal. She has a Master of Drama in Directing from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, a Degree in Anthropology from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa – Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas (New University of Lisbon Faculty of Social and Humanities Sciences) and a BA in Acting from the Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema (Higher Education Institute for Theatre and Cinema). She is an assistant lecturer at the Drama and Theatre department of School of the Arts and Design (ESAD.CR), Caldas da Rainha, Portugal, since 2007. She is also the artistic director of Teatro do Vestido, in Portugal, founded in 2001 and for which she has written, directed and devised over 17 pieces. In 2012 the Portuguese Association of Theatre Critics awarded her and Teatro do Vestido a special commendation.
Invisible Archives of Portuguese Dictatorship
This performance-lecture centers around the investigation of non-official, personal, hidden and unknown archives of several types pertaining the Portuguese Dictatorship (1926-1974), the Revolution (25th April 1974) and the Ongoing Revolutionary Process (1974-1975). My attempts at understanding official historical discourses from the investigation of ‘small history’ and anonymous participants led me into the discovery of hidden archives, to be unearthed and performed. Files from the former Political Police (PIDE) pertaining to anonymous citizens, prisoner lists posted at universities in Lisbon, and reports issued by the National Commission for Aid to Political Prisoners between 1970 and 1971, are juxtaposed with personal letters from two anonymous participants in the revolutionary process and clandestine pamphlets demanding freedom for the prisoners and the fall of the fascist regime. These archives – present and absent – not only tell stories about their historical moment and its anonymous protagonists, but also raise numerous questions about about how History has been recorded and what History is being transmitted in the present, especially in the context of Portugal, where the 40th anniversary of the 25th of April Revolution is now being celebrated.
NICOLÁS DUMIT ESTÉVEZ treads an elusive path that manifests itself performatively or through experiences where the quotidian and art overlap. He has exhibited and performed extensively in the U.S. as well as internationally at venues such as Madrid Abierto/ARCO, The IX Havana Biennial, PERFORMA 05 and 07, IDENSITAT, Prague Quadrennial, The Pontevedra Biennial, The Queens Museum of Art, MoMA, Printed Matter, P.S. 122, Hemispheric Institute, Princeton University, Rutgers University, The Institute for Art, Religion, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary, The MacDowell Colony, Provisions Library, El Museo del Barrio, Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, The Center for Book Arts, Longwood Art Gallery/BCA, The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Franklin Furnace, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. During the past seven years Estévez has collaborated with and received mentorship in art and everyday life from Linda Mary Montano, a historic figure in the performance art field. Residencies attended include P.S. 1/MoMA, Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. He has received grants from Art Matters, Lambent Foundation, National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, Printed Matter and Puffin Foundation. Estévez Holds an MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA; and an MA from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. Estévez has curated exhibitions and programs for El Museo del Barrio, the Institute for Art, Religion and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary, Longwood Art Gallery/Bronx Council on the Arts, and the Queens Museum of Art, New York; and for the Filmoteca de Andalucía, Córdoba, Spain. Publications include Pleased to Meet You, Life as Material for Art and Vice Versa (editor) and For Art’s Sake. Born in Santiago de los Treinta Caballeros, Dominican Republic, in 2011 Estévez was baptized as a Bronxite; a citizen of the Bronx.
Remembering as Archive: Fading Memories and the Joy of Forgetting (Nicolás Dumit Estévez recalls Nocturns for the last time)
I, Nicolás, delve into the vanishing memories of a seven-year art and life experience for which, in 2008, I retreated for one full week to a cloistered monastery in New York City, committing myself to the nocturnal adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the consecrated Eucharist, while the resident nuns took their nightly rest. My stay opened the possibility for a round-the-clock exposition of what Roman Catholicism recognizes as Christ's corporeal presence, at the same time it allowed my extraneous presence at the cloister to insert itself in an otherwise essentially closed community.
During the time spent at the cloister I vowed to refrain from engaging in any use of spoken or written language, and to avoid communicating with the outside world. On the seventh day I emerged from the monastery, and journeyed by foot with an invited group to the nearby Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD), where I broke my vow of silence and took questions. I promised to talk about Nocturns once a year: 2008-2014, assuring those present that at the end of this period I would not speak about it anymore. I therefore rely solely on people to spread information about the experience by word-of-mouth, and as a result to archive its history in an oral format. The years following my initial sojourn at the monastery have served as a platform from which I reflect on my shifting relationship to performance art, my spiritual upbringing, and my continuous efforts to invite art and the quotidian to comingle.
As part of the Radical Archives Conference I invite Natalia de Campos, Beatrice Glow, Rory Golden, Lady K-Fever, LuLu LoLo, Lisette Morel, and Priscilla P. Stadler to share the “stage” with me at the moment of remembering personal stories that they would like to forget. The cacophony generated serves as a cathartic process for the dissolution of my narrative as well as that of the participants. Similarly, I encourage the rest of the audience to mutter their own stories, and hence to contribute with them to the collective oral archive generated within the space of the conference.
Karen Karbiener is a Master Teacher of Humanities for NYU’s Liberal Studies Program. She is an active public scholar and organizes Whitman-centric events and exhibitions in New York City.
Once More to Pfaff's! is a walking and talking tour for twenty participants that will introduce them to Pfaff's Cellar Saloon, America's first bohemian bar and Walt Whitman's watering hole as he planned the sexually provocative, politically radical sixth edition of Leaves of Grass. Though the saloon located in the basement of 647 Broadway closed in the early 1860s, Pfaff's continues to live on and signify not just as a historical concept, but as a physical space that provides a direct link from Whitman's New York to ours, allowing us to experience everyday life in mid-19th century Manhattan in a way that cannot be accomplished within a preserved space or organized archive.
When Charles Pfaff opened his saloon in the mid-1850s, its location was at the hub of the most intense cultural commerce in America's fastest growing metropolis. But its subterranean location also made it a place of possibility and adventure for Whitman and his coterie, as well as subsequent generations. As a sub-space or counter-space, Pfaff's is a physical representation of alternative cultures - a “queer space” or amoral free zone for experience and experimentation. Hence the development of the Fred Gray Association, perhaps the city's first gay men's club, which convened regularly at Pfaff's; the establishment of Infinity, the pioneering disco of the 1970s that mixed straight and gay clubgoers, in Pfaff's second cellar, the basement of 653 Broadway; and the many unusual permutations of the basement at 643 Broadway, from speakeasy to S&M lair to gay gogo bar.
As a ‘living archive’ of Whitman's New York, what should be done about Pfaff's and spaces like it, which lie outside the bounds of institutions or protective agencies? These are archives in which material exists to be used, changed, or even destroyed; which maintain organic relationships with their environs; which are themselves treasures, though they may not have been officially recognized as such. What are the cons and pros of officially protecting and organizing such an archive—or to put it another way, keeping it alive?
Jen Liu was born 1976 in Smithtown, New York, and currently lives and works in Brooklyn. Liu received a BA from Oberlin College and an MFA from California Institute of the Arts. She has received grants from the Pollock Krasner Foundation, Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, and de ateliers in Amsterdam, amongst others. She has exhibited internationally, with past exhibitions at Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam; On Stellar Rays, New York; Aspen Art Museum, Colorado; Kunsthaus Zurich; MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, UK; Royal Academy, London; Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; Czarna Gallery, Warsaw; De Hallen Museum, Netherlands, Mallorca Landings, Palma de Mallorca, and Ceri Hand Gallery, London. Her work has been written about in publications such as ArtForum, Frieze, ArtReview, BombLog, LA Times and The Guardian newspaper.
The Monsanto Shadow Symposium
Is it possible to pinpoint the moment at which a corporation loses its childhood innocence? Performers will read from the text/transcript of a 1969 symposium hosted by Monsanto, in which scientists discussed what they perceived as the most crucial social problems then facing humanity: pollution, overpopulation, famine. The idea was that Monsanto would find a new mission for itself, and it did: switching from a generic chemicals company, to one that now dominates the agribusiness landscape: the symbolic juggernaut of corporate greed and environmental irresponsibility. What would the former corporation think of itself now? Can a performance draw out the shame of what’s come to pass?
Performers: Katharine Liu, Mores McWreath, Charles Suggs, Corey Tazmania
Archiving the Now focuses on the action, rather than the results or structure, of archiving. We understand that truly archiving the “now” is impossible. The now is not a single point in time, but more a “slant-dot” ( / ). To make connections between people in the now, the now of one person reaching the now of another person, takes time. Performance highlights this relationship and the balance/imbalance between us and now-ness. The now is actually impossible to share, yet we try. The archive becomes an impossibility, a rigorous yet humorous exercise used to link people temporarily and with meaning, rather than an attempt towards permanence. Our archives strive for the ongoing creation and preservation of connection. The archives that result are simply agreements on a “now” that happened between performers and spectators.
Archiving the Now will include a series of actions performed periodically and sometimes simultaneously from 11 am to 6 pm, with accumulating effects that can be viewed in between actions.
1. Chloë Bass will be documenting all of her activities for the duration of the performance, resulting in three simultaneous timelines of events: a) what she did on a minute-to-minute basis; b) the entrances and exits of other people into the space; c) any tasks that she assigned strangers to do as part of the archiving process, along with the results of those tasks.
2. Lital Dotan will be performing hospitality. She will collect DNA samples (in the form of nail and hair clippings, stored in small plastic evidence bags) from the conference participants, shifting the archive focus from performer to audience.
3. Esther Neff will be assessing environmental conditions (temperature, pH, fingerprints) using small vessels of rubberized clay, and drawing diagrams that situate the clay vessels with relation to perceived social conditions at the conference.
4. Dave and Woody’s Chicken Slaughtering LLC (Dave Ruder & Woody Leslie) will be archiving the now though a litany of small failures, collected and analyzed as graphable data of unscientific information.
Chloë Bass is a conceptual artist working in performance, publications, situations, and installations. Her current main concern is the aggregation of the everyday, most recently codified in her project The Bureau of Self-Recognition. Recent work has been seen at the Neuberger Museum, Momenta Art, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, Flux Factory, Kunstkammer AZB (Zürich), Akademie Schloss Solitude, Exit Art, Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit, ITINERANT Performance Festival, Glasshouse, Panoply Performance Laboratory, and Agape Enterprise, among others. Chloë is a 2013 - 2014 Fellow in Utopian Practice at Culture Push, and will be spending the summer at the Bemis Center.
Lital Dotan is a performance artist and generator. She is the co-founder of Glasshouse Art-Life-Lab in Brooklyn, NY. Together with creative partner Eyal Perry she exhibited internationally in museums and galleries (the Israel Museum, the San Francisco Jewish Modern and the National Museum in Cracow among others). In 2010 the Glasshouse project was hosted as a whole by performance artist Marina Abramovic at her institute in San Francisco for a 3 month residency. More recent exhibitions include Lumen Festival (NY), Fountain Fair (NY), Pearlstein Gallery (Philadelphia) and Akademie der kunst (Berlin). Lital & Eyal's work is best described as interdisciplinary performative art, integrating elements of video, photography and installation into performance; challenging ideas pertaining to the role of art in society, the role of the audience in art and the very nature of art itself. In their performative pieces they often involve the public, seriously examining public morality and the deeper, more hidden motivations behind social interactions.
Esther Neff is the founder of Panoply Performance Laboratory (PPL), an entity which operates across contexts and disciplines as a duo with Brian McCorkle, as a collective with many folks, and as a project space in Brooklyn. PPL's social performance projects have included operas, tours, conferences, festivals, a miniature museum, and scores, texts, installations, and collaboractions.
Since 2012, Dave Ruder & Woody Leslie have been telling stories in public and private, from subways & parks, to theaters & stages. Not your average grandpa rattling off tales on the porch rocker, nor your Spalding-Gray-wannabe monologuizing life onto the stage, D&W's CS LLC inhabit a world in between, taking stories so true to life that their everyday mundanity moves past boring to something else entirely. This significance of personal insignificance isn't so much celebrated, as just nicely framed, in pieces that run the gamut from structured and rehearsed to improvised and off-the-cuff, always with a strong multimedia component.
Who do you blame? And for what? And what are you accountable for in this predicament? The Office of Blame Accountability was established in 2007 by political artist and activist collaborative team, Carla Repice and Geoff Cunningham, to determine just that. Repice and Cunningham invite audiences to participate in their project by filling out forms that allow you to unleash your blame towards a person, group or system and then examine your role in the situation. At once humorous and serious, as well as contemplative and introspective, this public art project invites you to consider the agency of blame. The Office of Blame Accountability has been archiving blame since 2007. Our office will be open from 11-6 on the Friday of the conference, at the A/P/A gallery. Carla Repice, Kiran Chandra and Maya Pindyck will be your blame accountants for the day.
Jen Kennedy and Liz Linden have collaborated since 2008. Their projects have been exhibited and performed at the Brooklyn Museum’s Sackler Center for Feminist Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Centre for Book Arts, The University of Southern California, and the University of Jyväskylä, among other venues. For more about their work, visit contemporaryfeminism.com
pilot press... (2010-ongoing) is a DIY feminist publishing house and
library that seeks to provide a non-hierarchical, unedited, and uncensored look at the practices and production of the self-identified feminist community. Pilot press... is a platform for critical exchange that takes the shape of a renegade feminist publishing house, producing a DIY "canon" of new feminist work - in a very public and uncensored manner - and proposing an antidote to the perceived stagnancy and inflexibility of the Feminist Movement. Pilot press... not only provides an opportunity to publish new work, but it also serves as a realtime, ground level archive of the heterodox field of contemporary feminisms.
During the Radical Archives conference, community members and conference presenters will be invited to publish their talks, critical texts, short stories, photo essays and any other two-dimensional works that they are interested in having produced by our imprint or simply to stop by to use the pilot press... library. Our installation will offer the services of a publishing apprentice, who will, during conference hours, help participants print and bind their work. In exchange for this free publication service, the author is required to leave a single bound copy of their work on the growing shelf of our imprint’s library. Previous editions of pilot press... have been installed at Motto Books pop-up shop at the New York Art Book Fair, Cleopatra’s Artist-Run Center in Brooklyn, The Centre for Book Arts, NY, and in 2012’s Young Curators, New Ideas at Meulensteen Gallery.
Jules Rochielle is the Project Director at Social Design Collective and she is the founder of (SPAN), specializing in socially engaged art, civic engagement, participatory media, collaboration, conflict resolution and design thinking. Her studio, Social Design Collective, received a public art commission in Santa Ana, CA. She has held residencies at DLUX Media (Australia), Grand Central Art Center (USC Fullerton-Santa Ana), Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), Knowles West Media Center (UK), and The Sequoia Parks Foundation (CA). She has worked with NuLawLab, Native Public Media, Public Art Review, Metabolic Studio, Otis College of Art and Design, Freewaves, Access to Media Education Society, Vancouver Moving Theatre, and Full Circle First Nations. She has presented her work as a part of Creative Times Living as Form in their Social Practice Database, Projects & Prototypes (Otis College of Art and Design/LACE 2010) and Demonstrating Change through Storytelling at Round House Community Center, Vancouver (2007).
Carol A. Stakenas is a curator, educator and organizer whose work is deliberately varied in scope and content to align the strength of an artist’s practice with a new challenge and timely context. She has produced multidisciplinary public art at remarkable sites such the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage, Times Square, Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and at the top of Los Angeles’ City Hall. Stakenas has worked closely with many artists including Natalie Bookchin, Fallen Fruit, Piero Golia, Jeanne van Heeswijk, Suzanne Lacy, Nathalie Pozzi & Eric Zimmerman and scholars such as Marie de Brugerolle, Jennifer Doyle, Amelia Jones, Peggy Phelan, Michael Ned Holte and Clay Shirky. Stakenas is the curator at-large for SPAN (Social Practices Art Network). Previously, she was the executive director of LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions) and deputy director/curator of Creative Time (New York). She is currently teaching at Bennington College and has taught in the MA program in Art and Curatorial Practice at USC Roski School of Fine Arts.
A pop-up kiosk, “Common Capture: Keyhole Excavations in Media Archaeology” represents both the subject and object of a recent exhibition and media archiving project at the New Museum in New York City called “XFR STN.” The VHS collection of the MWF Video Club, a co- op “store” of the artists group Colab (Collaborative Projects, Inc.) that ran from 1986–2000, was the catalyst for an open-door digital transfer station. During summer of 2013, the local community of moving image artists were invited to use an ensemble of state-of-the-art digital archiving platforms to preserve their work in obsolete formats with the condition that the results be uploaded to Archive.org for common use. In the CC:KEMA stand, an old-school VHS video lounge represents the MWF Club, and an online station links to XFR materials on Archive.org.
Organized by Alexis Bhagat (Proxy for Colab), Tara Hart (Digital Archivist, New Museum), and Leeroy Kun Young Kang (XFR STN Collective).
The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics is a collaborative, multilingual and interdisciplinary network of institutions, artists, scholars, and activists throughout the Americas. Our goal is to promote vibrant interactions and collaborations at the level of scholarship, art practice, and pedagogy among practitioners interested in the relationship between performance and politics in the hemisphere.
As part of the Radical Archives Conference, the Hemispheric Institute will exhibit the Hemispheric Institute Digital Archive Station at the A/P/A Gallery, which will feature The Hemispheric Institute Digital Video Library and Performing the Archive: 15 Years of the Hemispheric Institute (2013). The Hemispheric Institute Digital Video Library is the first major digital video library of performance practices in the Americas. Created in partnership with NYU Libraries and with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this growing repository guarantees historical preservation and free, online access to more than 600 hours of video through the Hemispheric Institute website. Performing the Archive: 15 Years of the Hemispheric Institute (2013) investigated performance practices, embodied repertoires, and primary materials from the Hemispheric Institute archive. It included live re-performances from the Hemispheric Institute Digital Video Library, an open Long Table discussion on performance and archive practices, and a full-scale exhibit of primary materials from the Hemispheric Institute archive.
Hadassah Damien is a technologist, catalog software developer, and digital communications specialist at Openflows Community Technology Lab. She has collaborated on digital collection sites for John Jay library, The Interference Archive, and more. As a community organizer who also implements technology to help activists succeed, and a multimedia artist who also builds digital archives, her work intersects functionality with agility, practicality, and the democratic politics of open-source cultures. She is the Resident Scholar at the Interference Archive researching a book on the history of raised fists in political art. The digital catalog for this project can be seen here. She holds an MA in American Studies, and a Certificate in Interactive Technology and Pedagogy from the CUNY Graduate Center.
Digitizing Disruptive Archives: Open-source software as one answer to absence in humanities documentation
The goal of this presentation is to examine an archive of previously absent or invisibilized, “disruptive” materials with a focus on discussing the interaction between the use of technology to catalog and the politics of a collection. Interference Archive [IA] is a Brooklyn-based, public, political archive, art, and resource center which explores relationships between cultural production and social movements. The self-selected user base interacts with its collection's materiality through a preservation through use mandate and the logic of archiving interfaces with a clear politic as well as an artistic process of activating cultural and social histories, instigating a techno-social praxis. Like a growing number of GLAM organizations, IA has implemented an open-source software called CollectiveAccess to build their digital collection. As a radical historian and open-source developer, Damien has worked and theorized as part of the Interference Archive’s team tackling the issue of digitizing its previously undocumented, invisibilized, ephemeral, and otherwise absent texts and cultural ephemera using processes and digital strategies that are politically aligned with the archive's content. We conclude by comparing open source software and preservation through use, and critique a colonizer gaze on the disruptive content of the IA.
Jenna Freedman is a zine librarian and librarian zinester. She is the Associate Director of Communications at the Barnard Library in NYC. She has published articles on zine librarianship and presented around the United States and in France on that topic as well as on other themes of library activism.
Intersectional Feminist Archives: Ethics Into Practice
Anne Gilliland is Professor and Director of the Archival Studies specialization, Department of Information Studies, and Director of the Center for Information as Evidence, at the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She also directs the Archival Education and Research Initiative (AERI) that is led by a consortium of eight U.S. universities. Her teaching and research interests relate to the design, evaluation and history of recordkeeping, cultural and community information systems; metadata creation, management and archaeology; and community-based archiving and social justice concerns. Her most recent work is examining the role of records and recordkeeping in post-conflict recovery in the former Yugoslavia. Dr. Gilliland is a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists.
A Platform for Radical Archival Description
Certain individual archives, especially those that are consciously self-projecting as community, independent or oppositional archives, have been practicing forms of radical description, or at the very least, “non-canonical” description of their holdings for a long time. There is also a growing body of critical professional literature that acknowledges the role that mainstream metadata can play in imposing classificatory categories, privileging specific notions of authorship, depoliticizing established or delegitimating local authority forms, and supporting dominant historical narratives. However, there has been little systematic contemplation of the concerns and rationales underlying radical archival description and how they might be more broadly acknowledged and addressed in practice and in concept, especially given the pressure to “normalize” that comes when such archives use wider information systems to disseminate archival descriptions and digitized material. This paper will extend the idea of structural violence as advanced by scholars such as anthropologist Akhil Gupta to examine the ways in which today’s digital descriptive infrastructures (including descriptive standards and their promulgation by funding agencies, authority forms and files, shared databases of archival finding aids and digitized content, transnational collaborations to describe and put archival materials online, and Information Retrieval approaches) that aspire to expose and provide enhanced access to materials by and about minority, marginalized and oppressed groups and experiences instead can have the effect of systematically and cumulatively de-radicalizing, homogenizing, assimilating and sentimentalizing community and cultural expressions and heritage, as well as submerging power inequities. Waterton and Smith have argued that as dominant political and academic practice have become more engaged with expressions of community such as identity and heritage, different understandings of and assertions about heritage are eclipsed with the net result being “the virtual disappearance of dissonance and more nuanced ways of understanding heritage.” Drawing upon examples from the author’s research with community archives as well as with archives and recordkeeping in nations that have emerged following the ethnic and religious conflict in the former Yugoslavia, the paper will propose a platform for advancing radical digital description and reforming existing descriptive frameworks and structures. The platform is built around five facets (Acknowledging, Respecting, Enfranchising, Liberating and Protecting) and addresses issues of co-creation, the power to name, the right to self-identify, the right to respond, layered disclosure and community and individual security as these relate to both creators and end users of archival materials.
xZINECOREx Metadata for DIY media
This presentation will be an overview of the effort to design xZINECOREx, a metadata standard for Zines based upon Dublin Core as well as a Union Catalog/Linked open data system to aggregate and share data among different institutions. I'll discuss the decision to create a new standard instead of using existing ones; software choices; current progress and the next steps in the process.
Zack Lischer-Katz is a Library and Information Science PhD student at Rutgers University, School of Communication & Information. His research interests include media archives, preservation standards, information practices of preservationists, and the materiality of digital objects. He has taught courses on Digital Libraries for the Masters in Library and Information Science program at Rutgers University, as well as Video Preservation for the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program at New York University.
Identifying Radical Memory Practices in Archival Infrastructures
This research begins to develop a morphology of radical archival gestures, with implications for archival theorists, practitioners and activists in better understanding the range of radical archival practices and their role in disrupting archival infrastructures. Shifting focus to infrastructures and practices offers a complementary perspective to investigations that tend to foreground the contents of archives. Analysis of the social and technical means of collecting and preservation reveals how collecting institutions serve particular social purposes that may be at odds with the goals of radical groups. Archiving, taken broadly, covers a variety of practices that seek to maintain meaningful matter over time. Archiving is both material and discursive, legitimizing particular selections of objects as authoritative “documents,” “memories,” “records,” etc. through inclusion in an archival order. The meaningful dimensions of these objects, in turn, support the legitimization of a particular social order. To overcome the apparent contradiction between radical change and the effects of archival order, this presentation offers the concept of “radical archival gesture.” Radical archival gestures have symbolic and material dimensions that express and enact disruption, resistance and/or reconfiguration within archival infrastructures. After offering a series of illustrations of this concept and its possible applications, this presentation will offer some possible future directions for using this concept within archival studies and other fields.
Martha Tenney is Barnard’s first Digital Archivist. She comes to Barnard from the Human Rights Documentation Initiative, a digital archives that partners with organizations worldwide to digitize and make accessible important and vulnerable records of human rights struggles. She has also worked in digital archives at Democracy Now! and the Franklin Furnace Archive.
Digital Approaches to Archival Absence
What role can a college archives play in the representation of an institution’s past and present? How can archivists make accessible the history of a place, in all its complex, and often troubling, fullness? Can we avoid tokenization while allowing space for speech from the margins of our past? As Barnard nears its 125th anniversary, the Barnard Archives and Special Collections is embarking on a digital program to provide broader and deeper access to its collections. Canonical narratives about Barnard, recorded in secondary sources and reinforced in the folklore of the college, are necessarily limited, and researchers hoping to find--for example--the early histories of women of color at Barnard are often faced with archival silences--absences instituted during the creation of the records, then reinscribed during archival selection and appraisal. If we digitize according to the same logic of the existing collections, we run the risk of reinforcing these original absences. This talk discusses some potential strategies to surface marginalized narratives in a digital collections environment.
Alexander Provan is the editor of Triple Canopy, a magazine and publishing platform based in New York. He is also a contributing editor of Bidoun, a magazine of the arts and culture of the Middle East and its diaspora. His writing on digital culture, aesthetics, literature, and politics has appeared in The Nation, The Believer, n+1, Bookforum, Artforum, and Frieze, among other publications. Triple Canopy has recently participated in exhibitions and organized public programs at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York City) as part of the 2014 Whitney Biennial; the Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 (New York City); and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. Provan is a fellow at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics for 2013–2015.
Most archives that collect and conserve queer and GLBT content still function according to neoliberal logic. They comply with common law that regulates and legitimates the donated or purchased materials’ chain of ownership, conservation, and display. But the human body acting as archive exceeds and contests the notion of an archive as a site in which capital accumulates to later evidence or support a memory claim. As organic matter impacted by culture, the body acting as an archive is “queer” in that its composition changes as it acts to conserve and display. What changes – in the body or in the performances it agrees to conserve-- cannot be predicted, as over time the actions that the body conserves continue to affect it, and the particularity of that body as an archive transforms the actions it incorporates. Classification, a critical function of archiving, no longer separates, for the archivist whose body also acts as an archive cannot help but relinquish control over how works intermingle in and with the body. In this paradigm, performances are made anew as they relocate and disperse throughout the organism. Although the archivist has some degree of control over works she stores, consciously curating what she desires to absorb and display, the archivist’s agency remains limited for she cannot fully regulate how and where performance locates itself in the body or its long-term effects.
The body performing as archive cannot possess but instead becomes possessed, affected and remade by the performances of others. Against the juridical contract that accompanies a donation to an archive, when a body becomes archivist and archive of performance, it transforms performance into the evidence of the uncertain exchange that transpires between donor and archivist and other donations. Conversely, the body as an archive of performance undermines the institutional stability of the archive for it can only be constituted if performance is expended.
This panel assesses Julie Tolentino’s proposition, put forward in her ongoing archiving project “The Sky Remains the Same”, that the human body is not merely a transmitter of repertoires. Instead we propose to examine Tolentino’s work as a technology that demonstrates and reconfigures social and political values as well as the archive’s purpose. What changes when bodies are considered archives capable of recording, storing, indexing, and redistributing others’ performances? The New Museum’s recent show “Performance Archiving Performance”, which included “The Sky Remains the Same” alongside other artist-driven performance archiving projects, demonstrated that this paradigm might offer an alternative to what can be understood as or known about an archival event. In the show Tolentino violated the notion of conservation as retention, energetically spending what she was charged to retain in order to felicitously complete her task of conservation. This roundtable discussion reflects upon the proposition in “The Sky Remains The Same” that the human body performing as archive and archivist of other’s performances might in fact offer a radical antidote to the present epidemic of archive fever. How might an archive be a metaphor for other forms of social organization? Can the receipt and display of the archive’s materiality and its engagement with performance as its content mimic practices of queer political relations also not predicated on a similarity of exchange or juridical possession? What are the consequences if an archive becomes legible only through expending another’s performance and by utilizing gifting and dissipation as techniques of conservation?
Julie Tolentino’s career spans over two decades of dance, installation, and site-specific durational performance. Her diverse roles have included host, producer, mentor, and collaborator with artists such as Meg Stuart, Ron Athey, Madonna, Catherine Opie, David Rousseve, Juliana Snapper, Diamanda Galàs, Stosh Fila, Robert Crouch, Elana Mann, Mark So, Gran Fury, and Rodarte. Tolentino is deeply influenced by her extensive experience as a caregiver, an Eastern and aquatic bodyworker, a highly disciplined contemporary dancer, and as proprietress of Clit Club in New York. Her manifold, exploratory duet/solo practice includes installation, dance-for-camera, and durational performance engaging improvisation one-to-one score-making and fluids, including blood, tears, and honey. As an extension of her practice after twenty-five years in New York City, she designed and built a solar-powered live–work residency in the Mohave Desert called FERAL House and Studio, where she explores the remote forms of physical inquiry through landscape and texts. She has received numerous grants and fellowships. She is currently the editor of Provocations in the Drama Review-TDR (MIT Press). Her works have been commissioned by The Kitchen, Participant Inc., Invisible Exports, Performa ’05, and in the UK by Spill Festival, Tramway, DanceExchange, and queerupnorth. Recent tours include England, Europe, Myanmar, the Philippines (at Manila Contemporary and Green Papaya Gallery), and Theaterworks in Singapore. She has been presented at Broad Art Space at University California Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), Commonwealth & Council, Honor Fraser, PSI19 at Stanford, Perform Chinatown, and Install Weho. In 2013, she created new performance and objects for the Reanimation Library Project in Joshua Tree, FIRE IN HER BELLY at Maloney Fine Art, LACE Auction 2013, Body/Mind at Cypress Gallery, High Desert Test Sites 2013, and an Aaron Turner collaboration at Night Gallery, Los Angeles. She will be premiering new works at UCLA, NYU Abu Dhabi, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in 2014. She is currently based in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree.
Tara Hart is the Digital Archivist at the New Museum where she oversees the Museum’s Digital Archive as well as analog holdings related to the Museum’s institutional history. At the New Museum, she co-organized “XFR STN,” an exhibition and media archiving project that focused on providing free video preservation services to artists. Recently, Hart co-organized a presentation of archival material entitled “Occupied Territory: A New Museum Trilogy,” (January 22—April 13, 2014), which focuses on three interrelated exhibitions from 1993 that interrogated globalization’s social, economic, cultural, and intellectual impact. Prior to joining the New Museum, Hart worked as an archivist at the Public Art Fund and subsequently the Fales Library and Special Collections, where she processed the Group Material Archive. She holds a BA in Visual Art-Media from the University of California, San Diego and received her MLS from Pratt Institute in New York.
Debra Levine is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at New York University and is an affiliated faculty member of the Department of Undergraduate Drama at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and The Hemispheric Institute for Politics and Performance. Debra’s work explores the intersection between performance, politics and new media/digital humanities in the 20th and 21st century through the lens of feminist and queer theory, disability studies, and visual studies. With Pamela Cobrin, she co-edited the recent 2012 special issue on “Aging and Performance,” for Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, and edited the 2008 issue of Women and Performance on “Wasting.” Debra has contributed articles to GLQ, Women & Performance, e-misférica, Theatre Research International, and The Disability Studies Quarterly. Her digital book in process on Scalar, Demonstrating ACT UP, is a multimedia exploration of how, within the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), participation in public AIDS demonstrations exposed and enabled new paradigms of collective care for activists with HIV and AIDS. The work is a set of critical essays and acts as a digital archive and finding aid, linking private and public archival documents of AIDS activism from the 1980’s and 1990’s with the testimonies from the ACT UP Oral History Project. Debra has also directed extensively for the theatre and has produced a number of independent documentaries – three specifically about the crisis of AIDS in incarcerated populations in New York State and Oklahoma. She has worked extensively with women prisoners to organize inmate-directed AIDS peer education programs. Debra holds an M.F.A. in Theatre Direction from Columbia University and a PhD from NYU's Performance Studies program, and has taught at NYU, Barnard College and The Cooper Union.
Fredrik Egefur is a doctoral candidate at Lund University and director of the Labour Movement Archives of Skåne in the south of Sweden. The Labour Movement Archives, founded in 1941, is an independent foundation with a mission to preserve and provide sources of information on the labour movement and labour history in the city of Malmö and the country of Sweden. Historically, the archive collected mainly material from the social-democratic labour party and trade unions. Recently it has expanded its mission to documenting the history of all movements connected to the Swedish political left, such as the feminist, peace, and solidarity movements, and political organizations working outside of the conventional parliamentarian paradigm.
How to Collect Radical Political Material in the 21st Century, a Project in the City of Malmö, Sweden
This paper will discuss the challenges encountered in our work within this new expanded context. Specifically, I will address the following questions. How should one build an archive to deal with political material genuinely interesting and relevant to the 21st century? How does one get organizations that have never delivered or properly saved any of their material to co-operate with an archive which traditionally has focused more on the traditional reformist movements? How does one establish contact with movements without the normal hierarchic structure and without traditions of saving their material (like the Occupy Movement, to name an example). In a two year project we have worked to collect this kind of material in a way that no Swedish archive has done before. Although we already have plenty of results, the project needs to go on for several more years to fully place the feminist and more autonomous political movements in their true context.
Sharon E. Farb is an Associate University Librarian for Collections and Scholarly Communications at the UCLA Library.
Ali Jamshidi is a UCLA Digital Collections Specialist, curator of the Green Movement collection, founder and leader of the most important social media platform for distribution of information about the Green Movement and post-election protests, and founder of Tahavole Sabz, a prominent Iranian journalistic outlet.
Ethics and Challenges of Documenting History in Real Time
At UCLA we have been collecting both digital and physical materials from war ravaged areas of the world. We’ve partnered with political activists to develop a unique assemblage of ephemera collected by political activists on the front lines of these social media revolutions. The presentation will cover how we organized and collected this disaggregated content and record of history and the legal, political, and ethical challenges posed. One set of critical questions revolves around how to best protect personal safety of those most at risk in capturing and documenting history while is it occurring. Hear from the activist himself on how he came to be part of a global political movement and why he sees value in the role research libraries and archives play in capturing and preserving the historical and cultural record that were not available before. By working directly with activists and technologists in the Green Movement we have developed a significant collection of software packages, logs, and applications that effectively document the social, political and technological history of Iran's Green Movement. Along with the technology a substantial collection of videos, photographs, and posters have also been gathered. The collection consists of thousands of videos gathered during the protests. These videos and images were downloaded more than 3 million times from in-country. This content and collection combined with the images, web logs etc., are historically significant as they are part of the first ever "digital revolution" which preceded the Arab Spring. The discussion will cover critical legal, policy and ethical questions raised by collaborative international grass roots approach developed from field recordings and why we believe that insider descriptions captured at the time are most relevant authentic record of history.
Julie Herrada is the Curator of the Joseph A. Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan Library, where she collects and manages holdings related to international social protest movements. She also curates exhibits, assists students and researchers from all over the world, and is constantly collaborating and thinking of ways to preserve and provide universal access to hidden histories. She has been in her position since 2000. From 1994-2000 she served as the Labadie Collection’s Assistant Curator. She holds an MLS with a Certificate in Archival Administration from Wayne State University (1990). She received her B.A. from WSU in 1984.
Collecting Cultures of Resistance: The Joseph A. Labadie Collection
This presentation discusses the history of the oldest public archive of social protest in the world, founded in 1911 at the University of Michigan. The presenter, Julie Herrada, is the third curator in its entire history. She will tell the unique stories of the people who created and curated it, and describe how it not only has survived but thrived into the 21st century.
Amy Roberts started the Occupy Wall Street Archives Working Group in October 2011. She is interested in how activists can use archives to document their own history. She coauthored the chapter "Why Archive? And Other Important Questions by Occupiers" in the book Informed Agitation published by Litwin Books in 2014. She is currently completing her Masters of Library and Information Studies at Queens College.
The Occupy Wall Street Archives
I will be presenting a paper based on my experiences with initiating the Occupy Wall Street Archives working group and organizing the physical collection of the archive. The paper will focus on the challenges of archiving an ongoing grassroots movement without institutional support and the need for educating other participants. I will discuss how archives can be a tool for activists seeking to frame their own historical narrative by sharing my observations from archiving the movement as a participant. As a participant, I was able to gain unique insights about the context in which many materials in the physical collection were created. Activists who are archivists have to make use of the limited resources they have to keep the collections accessible to the user community. Archivists need to educate other participants about why archives are important and about archival principles and standards. The challenges of archiving Occupy Wall Street can provide lessons and alternative models for activists and archivists seeking to archive social movements outside traditional institutional structures.
T-Kay Sangwand is the Human Rights Archivist for the University of Texas Libraries’ Human Rights Documentation Initiative and the Librarian for Brazilian Studies for the Benson Latin American Collection. Since 2009, she has worked with nongovernmental organizations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the U.S. to preserve their human rights documentation. Prior to UT, Sangwand completed the MLIS and Latin American Studies MA dual degree program at UCLA with specializations in Archives, Spanish, and Portuguese and in 2013 she participated in the Archives Leadership Institute. Sangwand cofounded the Society of American Archivists Human Rights Archives Roundtable and is currently a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists.
A Practical & Ethical Guide to Building Post-Custodial Archival Partnerships
While the postcustodial archival model has remained a part of archival discourse since the 1980s, the debate over the model’s usefulness and applicability has waned over the past decade. I speculate that part of this decline can be attributed to the literature’s tendency to focus on the theory of the model and rarely draw upon actual use cases of it. This presentation will draw upon the work of the University of Texas Libraries Human Rights Documentation Initiative to provide contemporary concrete examples of the postcustodial model in action as well as practical and ethical considerations for the model’s implementation in diverse human rights contexts. This presentation aims to reach out to archivists who are interested in implementing the postcustodial archival model as well as community organizations and individuals who seek an alternative framework in which to collaborate with formal archival institutions.
Zachary Loeb is an activist, writer, and library professional; though he trained as an archivist he currently works as a reference librarian at an academic library. As an active member of the People’s Library working group during Occupy Wall Street and an affiliate member of the Archives working group, he experienced firsthand the challenges of bringing together the library/archive and the activist ethos. Loeb earned his MSIS from the University of Texas at Austin, and is currently working towards an MA in the Media, Culture, and Communications department at NYU. With Jaime Taylor he co-founded the library/archive activist blog Librarian Shipwreck.
Douglas Cox is an Associate Law Library Professor at the City University of New York School of Law. He blogs about government records and archives, document destruction and armed conflict at Document Exploitation.
Ramzi Kassem is Associate Professor of Law at the City University of New York School of Law. He directs the Immigrant & Non-Citizen Rights Clinic where he and his students represent prisoners of various nationalities presently or formerly held at American facilities at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, at so-called “Black Sites,” and at other detention sites worldwide. Professor Kassem also supervises the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) project, which primarily aims to address the legal needs of Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and other communities in the United States that are particularly affected by post-9/11 law enforcement policies and practices. Professor Kassem previously taught at Fordham School of Law and at Yale Law School. His current interests include the legal and policy responses to the September 11th attacks and other real or perceived national security crises, the rights of minorities and non-citizens, and international humanitarian law.
FOIA and the NSC 'black box'
The government currently treats the entire National Security Council (NSC) and National Security Staff (NSS) interagency structure as exempt from the disclosure requirements of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as well as the record keeping requirements of the Federal Records Act (FRA). Instead the government treats all NSC/NSS records as subject only to the significantly less stringent, and almost unenforceable, Presidential Records Act (PRA). This means that NSC/NSS targeting decisions take place within a "black box" where limited documentation requirements allow, if not encourage, "no notes" policies and any records created can be destroyed at the President's sole discretion. The situation has only worsened given reporting that the NSC's role has even expanded in recent years. Indeed, the NSC has taken over aspects of the drone killing process that had been previously led by self-described "agencies," and therefore would have been subject to the FOIA and the FRA. Whether viewed as a "bureaucratic power grab" or a responsible removal of targeting decisions from those who "pull the trigger," the expansion of NSC control has further shrouded the process in secrecy and undermined accountability. The current limited documentation requirements for the NSC's involvement in the killings of US citizens and others outside of recognized battlefields has crucial implications for transparency and executive branch accountability. As we will argue, greater documentation and disclosure requirements are needed for the NSC to ensure accountability to Congress, the public, and history.
Joshua Craze is a British writer, and the 2014 UNESCO-Aschberg Creative Writing Fellow at the Dar al-Ma'mûn, Morocco. He is currently working a novel, Redacted Mind, and a book under contract with the British publishers Hurst & Co., entitled Line Language: on the borders of the Middle East. He is also a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is writing a dissertation on politics and ethics on the Sudan-South Sudan border, and a fellow at The Nation Institute for Investigative Reporting, where his work on American national security has led to a Senate inquiry. His reportage and essays have appeared in the British Guardian, the Washington Monthly, Onsite Review, and Fourth Genre, amongst others. His fiction has appeared in Annalemma and Hotel Amerika. With Mark Huband, he edited The Kingdom: Saudi Arabia and the Challenge of the 21st Century (New York: Columbia University Press/London: Hurst & Co).
How to do things with(out) words
I’ve spent many years reading documents that arrive in my inbox, or my mailbox, covered with redactions. I read them like a detective, looking for the traces with which I can tell stories of money and disappearances. Recently though, I have begun to think I’ve been missing something—maybe, rather than reading these documents for what they hide, for what isn’t redacted, I should be reading the black spaces. Take this page, from a CIA document. Nothing in the legal framework that governs redaction can explain its form, which is reminiscent of 1970s American conceptual poetry. As I began to study the aesthetics of redaction, I saw that it has a grammar. In some texts, the verbs vanish: subjects do unmentionable things to suspects, who then miraculously confess. In other texts, there are redacted subjects waterboarding redacted suspects. Only the action remains. In the Office of Legal Counsel’s report into the torture memos, the redaction is spatial: every time John Yoo enters the White House, the text vanishes, only to reappear as Yoo sets to work on a new version of the memo; as if he were a puppet, with a demonic master hidden somewhere in the black. My paper studies the aesthetics of redaction, and asks what we can learn, not from the information hidden in the pages, but from the form of hiding itself.
Melinda Hunt received a B.A. from Reed College and a B.F.A. from the Pacific Northwest College of Art both in Portland, OR in 1981. She graduated from the Yale School of Art in 1985 receiving a M.F.A. In 2007, she received a M.S. in Digital Imaging and Design from New York University. Melinda published a documentary book with Joel Sternfeld titled Hart Island in 1998. She directed a film released in 2007 titled Hart Island: An American Cemetery. In 2008 she began working with volunteers to complete an on-line database of burials on Hart Island from 1980-2013. Melinda is the recipient of three NYSCA awards, two Canada Council for the Arts Awards, and one Connecticut Commission for the Arts Award for her interdisciplinary work as a sculptor, new media artist, public artist and filmmaker.
Traveling Cloud Museum: An Archive of People Who Disappear and Reappear
From 2008-2013, I obtained through lawyers 65,000 recent burials records for people buried on Hart Island, the public cemetery in New York. With on-line volunteers, I created a digital database that has lead to legislation in New York City altering the administrative code and transferring Hart Island to the Parks Department. I received creative grants to produce portraits and build an on-line system of storytelling tied to the database of burials. The Traveling Cloud Museum is now in production. The Hart Island Project recently received a provisional patent for Cloud Museum's system of interactive clocks of anonymity, adding a gaming feature to the database of burials. This effort is a creative approach to preserving the stories of people who disappear in New York City.
Alexander Manevitz is a doctoral candidate, and Berger-MacCracken Fellow, in U.S. History at NYU.
The Physical and Historical Destruction of Seneca Village
Workers uprooting trees in New York’s Central Park discovered the remains of an Irish immigrant named Margaret McIntay, and another coffin “enclosing the body of a negro, decomposed beyond recognition.” By the time the workers discovered McIntay in 1871, she had been buried there for at least fourteen years. Unaware that the area used to be the heart of Seneca Village, a once-vibrant community in upper Manhattan, The New York Herald expressed bewilderment as to the origin of these bodies when reporting on the discovery. A geographically removed settlement founded in 1825 by free African Americans, Seneca Village quickly grew to include white German and Irish immigrants, three churches, and one school before the City of New York forcibly evicted the residents in 1857, and razed the community to build Central Park. The Herald’s surprise indicates how quickly New Yorkers forgot Seneca Village, and that amnesia persists. My paper analyzes the power discrepancies involved in the moments of source and archive creation, and how they shape histories and memories of American urban development. I argue the historical erasure developed out of three linked dynamics: first, the twinned processes of source and archival; second, the physical destruction of the community; and third, the dominant narratives of New York’s urban progress. These three dynamics have come together to create archival and historiographical absence that scholars must challenge in order to more fully understand how a variety of New Yorkers imagined alternative urban communities in the nineteenth century, and how they struggled to shape it.
Voichita Nachescu received her doctorate in American Studies and Women’s Studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo and was a postdoctoral fellow at Rice University. Her articles and reviews have appeared in publications such as the Journal for the Study of Radicalism, Women’s Studies Quarterly, and edited collections.
From Public Archives to Archives in the Making: the Evolving Archives of the National Alliance of Black Feminists
In my paper, I explore the evolving archives of a Second Wave African American feminist organization and the multiple erasures that contribute to keeping the organization’s history marginal within histories of the Second Wave. I argue that the organization has generated three archives. First, the organization’s archive, in the traditional sense, includes historical documents of the organization. Second, there is the archive of books, theses, and activist projects created by the members after the organization ended in 1983. Lastly, there is an evolving oral history archive created by researchers and the former members themselves, who are planning a reunion of the organization. Each of the three archives offers a different kind of insight into the unfolding history of intersectional feminism, and I argue that each has been marginalized and / or neglected in a specific way.
Hana Sleiman is a researcher and organizer based in Beirut, Lebanon. She is currently managing the Palestinian Oral History Archive housed at the American University of Beirut and is a member of Visualizing Palestine collective. Her research focuses on archive creation and appropriation in modern Palestinian history and its effects on the competing narratives on Palestine. Sleiman received her MA from Columbia University’s Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies in 2013. She was a recipient of a Fulbright scholarship for 2012-13.
Archives of the Palestinian National Movement: A Battle Over the Production of History
In March 1986, Lieutenant Issa from the Algerian armed forces accompanied Samih Shbeib, head of the Archives and Documents Section at the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Research Center, to Tsebe military base in the Algerian desert. Lieutenant Issa pointed towards rows of white boxes covered with tents and said, “this is the Palestinian Archive.” Little did they know that the archive would still be there nearly three decades later.
This paper is an inquiry into the curious fate of the PLO Research Center’s archive. It reconstructs the way in which this archive was lost and why it was never repatriated, highlighting Israel’s seizure of Palestinian archives, the Palestinian leadership’s abandonment of their own records, and the ramifications of this archival absence on the writing of Palestinian history. In analyzing these ramifications, the paper turns to the archive established under the Palestinian Authority in the wake of the 1993 Oslo Agreements. This new national archive was established as the basis for the history of a re-imagined Palestine. The paper presents a reading into the difference between the pre-1993 archive and that of the quasi-state to explore the difference between two archivally constructed Palestines: the metamorphosis of the national movement from a liberation project into a state building enterprise. It aims to reveal that what is at stake in silencing one archive and championing another is silencing the history of one national project, and giving voice to another, thereby reshaping the boundaries of the production of modern Palestinian history.
Allen Feldman is a cultural anthropologist who has conducted ethnographic research on the politicization of the gaze, the body and the senses in Northern Ireland, South Africa and the post 9/11 global war of terror. His research and teaching interests include visual culture, political aesthetics, political animality, and practice-led media research. Feldman is the author of the critically acclaimed book Formations of Violence: the Narrative of the Body and Political Terror in Northern Ireland (Chicago UP 1991), and numerous essays on political violence as visual and performance culture. He is an Associate Professor in NYU's Media, Culture and Communications program.
Park McArthur is an artist living and working in New York. Her recent exhibitions include work at Catherine Bastide, Brussels, and Essex Street, New York.
Jennifer Burris Staton is a curator and writer based in Mexico City. Previously the 2011- 2013 Whitney-Lauder Curatorial Fellow at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, she has recently published essays in Afterall, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Studies in French Cinema, and in exhibition catalogues for the artists Brian Weil and Alexandra Navratil.
Beverly Buchanan: Sculpture as Archive
In her 1973 book Overlay, Lucy Lippard presents prehistory as fundamentally unknowable: subject to speculation, mystery, and myth. All that remains from this era are the “primal forms” of stones left in circles, in mounds, in spirals, and spanning axes—their ragged structures relaying a “social message from the past to the present about the meaning and function of art.” This presentation is a temporal chronicling of our encounter with Beverly Buchanan’s sculptures, “prehistoric” minimalist forms made during the late 70s and early 80s, over the course of this past year. It is a moment of public visibility in an ongoing process: a place to share the arc and nature of our research by presenting questions we have asked ourselves as well as those that remain unresolved. Accompanying our discussion is a slideshow of images drawn from both personal and institutional archives. This visual chronicling of the contours of photographs, sculptures, notebooks, drawings, and life decisions that compose Buchanan's actions and oeuvre frames our research.
A manila folder inside the Whitney Museum's relocated library on Manhattan’s 26th street marked our first experience with Buchanan’s work. Photographs, taken in her studio and sent to her then-gallerist Jock Truman, reveal a sculptural language of cast “fragments” (or “frustula”) meant to evoke the remains of urban structures after their destruction. Exploring these enigmatic photographs further, we found descriptions of large-scale installations constructed via similar methodologies and located throughout the American Southeast: sculptures that evoke the “prehistoric” (i.e. non-written, non-specialist, unknowable) narratives of African experience in America. These histories survive as unmarked gravestones and crumbling homesteads scattered amidst rural terrains, just as current histories of marginalization and disenfranchisement survive in post-industrial urban landscapes. Our ongoing project explores such sculptures (both studio-specific and environmental) as geographical archive: an art historical framing that takes up Lippard’s early politicization of Land Art as a generative platform from which to consider the social and aesthetic propositions of Buchanan’s work from these years.
G. D. Cohen is an artist, scholar of visual culture, and founding member of the Directorate of REASArch: the group for Research on Experimental Accumulation and Speculative Archives. From October 2012 to April 2013, he served as Visualist-in-Residence at the Institute of Cultural Inquiry in Los Angeles, where he developed the Valaco Archive (valacoarchive.com), a project associated directly with the work of REASArch. Cohen’s experimental photography earned honors in the 2013 International Juried Competition of the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art (LACDA), and his poetry has appeared, most recently, in E·ratio and Anti-. Since 2012, Cohen has served as Co-curator of the Festival of (In)appropriation, an annual showcase of experimental found-footage film and video sponsored by Los Angeles Filmforum. He earned his Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard in 2008, and currently holds an appointment as Lecturer in Cinema and Media Studies in the Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media, University of California-Los Angeles.
The Valaco Archive Project: The Speculative Archive as Machine for Visual Thinking
In the spring of 2004, a peculiar document surfaced in an obscure municipal archive in the Parque Patricios neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Its contents—a motley assortment of idiosyncratic musings scrawled by hand onto every manner of scrap paper and organized into three unmarked manila folders—offered abundant evidence of a singular intellectual force, if precious few indications of the identity of the work’s author. One notation, however, etched in lead pencil inside the back cover of the third folder, furnished the following datum: "C. Roberto Valaco. Schriftatlas."
As later inquiry would reveal, certain passages of the so-called “Atlas of Writing” (today commonly known as the “Notebooks”) would suggest that C. Roberto Valaco—born Konstanz Robert Wälke sometime in the mid-1920s—had served as a movie extra in Nazi director Veit Harlan’s epic historical melodrama, Kolberg, the last and costliest film production of the Third Reich. Yet, what most distinguished Wälke’s brief tenure on the famed UFA Studio backlots in Berlin in 1944 was the means by which he arrived there: like tens of thousands of other Germans who also figured in the motion picture’s colossal battle scenes, Valaco had likely been furloughed from the front lines of World War II by none other than Harlan himself, precisely as Germany careened towards imminent defeat. Nearly a decade has intervened since the encounter with the Valaco Notebooks.
Evidently a recluse, quite probably an autodidact, most certainly a man possessed of prodigious if enigmatic critical faculties, Valaco was preoccupied with a range of questions regarding the nature of memory and forgetting, the practices of scavenging and discarding (both of which he seems to have practiced assiduously), and the philosophical dimensions of vision, visual technologies, and techno-visual experience per se. The vivid if sometimes vexing questions and ideas about archival practice contained in the Valaco Archive itself have structured REASArch's approach to our work organizing and reshaping the archive, from its core organizational rubrics (Schriftatlas; Forensics; Residua; Anarchaeolog) to its signal theoretical propositions (rigorous speculation; speculative archives; experimental accumulation; the anarchival and the anarchic). The archive can currently be visited online.
Brian Harnetty is a composer and artist from Ohio, and his work involves overlooked elements of sound. Many of his pieces transform found material––including field recordings, transcriptions, and historic recordings––into personal sound worlds. For the past decade, this has led to a focus on projects with sound archives, including the Berea College Appalachian Sound Archives in Kentucky, and the Sun Ra/El Saturn Creative Audio Archive in Chicago. Harnetty received degrees in music composition from the Royal Academy of Music, London (M.Mus.) and The Ohio State University (B.Mus.). He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts at Ohio University, where his dissertation research connects sound, archives, place, and performance. Harnetty’s music is on Chicago’s Atavistic Records. His current release, The Star-Faced One, is Mojo Magazine’s 2013 Underground Album of the Year.
Multi-Voiced Archival Performance and the Sun Ra / El Saturn Collection
The Sun Ra/El Saturn Collection is a catalog of approximately 700 audio tapes that span over thirty years of the experimental jazz composer and bandleader Sun Ra’s career. In 2010, a number of visual artists, musicians, and writers were commissioned to create new works based on these archival recordings. By simultaneously creating many works from a single, specific archive, these artists yielded a rich and complex series of reflections on Sun Ra that are varied, layered, and simultaneously listen back to the past and toward the future. A new space of sonic engagement is opened that is not limited to music alone. If the archive is often understood as a meta-narrative, a conceptual or philosophical problem, or as a bureaucratic mechanism, then my primary interest here lies in the many smaller stories––flawed, open-ended, fragmented, interstitial––that coalesce to form the body of an archive listened to “from below.” Multiple voices move across the living contexts of the archive, across disciplines, and across time and space as active, embodied “archival performances,” what Shannon Jackson also refers to as “performance[s] of history.” As such, a complex and often difficult relationship is formed between the creators of the archival material and those remixing it, a sonic historiography that opens new ways of exchange, dialogue, respect, conflict, and multiple meanings.
S.S. Sandhu is the author of Night Haunts: A Journey Through The London Night (winner of 2008 DH Lawrence International Prize For Travel Writing). He makes radio documentaries for the BBC, runs the Colloquium for Unpopular Culture at New York University, and is a film critic (he was named Critic of the Year at the British Press Awards in 2005). His writings have appeared in a number of publications including the London Review of Books, Suddeutsche Zeitung, Du, The Wire, Sight and Sound, Bidoun, Gastronomica,The Australian, Modernism/ Modernity, New York, The Guardian, and the Times Literary Supplement.
Francisco Diaz Casique received his PhD from the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California at Berkeley in May, 2013. He is currently working as a Lecturer in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.
Contesting the 'Archive': The 2011 Pelican Bay State Prison Hunger Strike
The modern U.S. prison system is, I am arguing, both literally and figuratively an archive controlled/guarded by the state. It is my argument here that the system of imprisonment is a vast archival system. I am using the term, archive, in two ways. The first is as a place where historical records are collected, while the second is the action of storing away those things. There is, of course, also the argument that state prison officials act as archivists as they collect, register, categorize, and inventory the bodies of the imprisoned. The prisoner is objectified as he/she is assigned a record number, archived in a particular section of the prison, and then carefully put away. In this paper I will look at one exemplary archive, Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) – one of three super-maximum security prisons in California – where I am exploring one key moment in the history of California’s use of this technologically driven, super-maximum prison to "archive". The moment that this presentation will focus on is the hunger strike undertaken in 2011 by the men – of whom my brother, Rafael Casique, was one – held inside the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at PBSP. The physical body, the object which makes up this ever-expanding archive, is all the prisoner has to reject their capture. This hunger strike is the action of acting against the archive – a necessary component for the emergence of the modern nation-state and modern capitalism – and reclamation of their subjectivity.
Carol Jacobsen is an award winning social documentary artist whose works in video and photography draw on contemporary interviews, court files and historical records to address issues of women’s criminalization, human rights and censorship. Her work has been exhibited and screened worldwide, including at the Pompidou Centre, Paris, Lincoln Center, New York, Musee Contemporanea, Barcelona, Kunstforum, Bonn, Women’s International Conference in Beijing. It is often co-sponsored by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other nonprofits. She has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Paul Robeson Foundation, Women in Film Foundation and others. Her critical writings have appeared in Signs Journal, the Hastings Women’s Law Journal, The New York Law Review, Social Text, Art in America, Exposure and other publications. She is Professor of Art, Women’s Studies and Human Rights at the University of Michigan, and represented in New York by Denise Bibro Gallery. She serves as Director of the Michigan Women’s Justice & Clemency Project, a grassroots advocacy and public education effort for human rights, and for freedom for wrongly convicted women prisoners.
Women, Prison and Human Rights Archives
The history of women’s criminalization is a history of state violence and injustice. From minor property and drug offenses to murder, women’s crimes are produced by their struggle to survive and sentenced within a largely closed regime that imparts harsh, gendered modes of punishment. Drawing on long-term relationships, activism, filmmaking and public education with women on both sides of the prison fence through my roles as artist, educator, political organizer and Director of the Women’s Justice & Clemency Project in Michigan, my presentation offers a view of a unique archive that I have built over the past three decades. The archive (which I have been gradually donating to the Labadie Radical Collection at the University of Michigan Library) contains data, films, images, correspondence, interview notes and legal files on hundreds of women prisoners, including all the women currently serving time in Michigan for murder, women arrested for prostitution, and women abused and tortured in solitary confinement. The presentation will include short film clips narrated by women prisoners as well as a brief discussion of the strategies of resistance brought against a prison system that was named by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as one the worst state systems in the nation for its human rights abuses against women in custody.
Samina Shahidi’s interests include colonial and postcolonial experimental, syncretic spaces created by artists and scholars of the Indian Subcontinent, the Middle East, North America and North Africa. She is interested in studying the cultural production before and during the Partition of the Indian Subcontinent, particularly in relation of communities of women. A former Teaching Fellow at the City University of New York, she currently works as a program advisor for the Master of Arts in Urban Studies at the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies and the School of Professional Studies, CUNY.
Ghosts of Revolution: Prisoners' Memoirs as Alternative Archive
My paper will focus on Shahla Talebi’s extraordinary memoir Ghosts of Revolution: Rekindled Memoirs of Imprisonment in Iran and its occupation of simultaneous spaces: the prison autobiography, the testimonio, and profound anthropological literary narrative. Talebi, a former political prisoner under the Pahlavi and Khomeini regimes, presents an assemblage of complex narratives of familial members and fellow prisoners in their encounters with and reflective responses to institutionally mandated torture. In the process of “narrating and being narrated,” Talebi recommits to what Veena Das defines as recovering and making known the ordinary and transcendent voices of this community at points of trauma, taboo, agency and activism. GoR is also the public act of historiography and an assertion of vital and alternative archive to state tactics of forced recanting, the prison as museum bearing the names of former progressives, and the massacre of thousands of political prisoners at Evin Prison. In its resuscitation of the political, GoR interrogates Western dominant constructions of Iranian identity and re-visions “the meaning of the tie, the bond and the relation as they are imagined.”
Jaime Taylor earned her BA at Smith College in 2006 and her MLS at Simmons College in 2009. She is the librarian at Rennert's Gallery in New York City, was one of the Occupy Wall Street librarians, and co-captains the Librarian Shipwreck blog.
Best Practices for Radical Prisoners' Archives
If history is written by the victors, our incarcerated fellows are decidedly absent from the historical narrative. Government agencies such as the federal Bureau of Prisons are mandated to keep their records, but these records focus on the official administrative side of prisoners & incarceration. Prisoners' own stories & non-official narratives will not be found there. Further, usual processes & practices followed by archivists often cannot be adhered to when archiving around incarceration, as incarceration so harshly interferes with normal human relations – donors & creators cannot be easily communicated with; prisoners are not in control of their possessions or even their bodies; those who have control over prisoners often actively suppress prisoners' narratives of their own lives; and many prisoners have intersecting identities & issues that further make their records less likely to be archived. Comprising the small existing literature, the experiences of archivists who have worked on prisoner collections, and radical & anarchic approaches to archiving, I will propose a set of best practices – or perhaps merely possible practices, given the above difficulties – archivists can use to bring prisoners & their records into preserved history.
Alexis Agathocleous is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and works on CCR’s Government Misconduct and Racial Justice docket. He is lead counsel in Aref v. Holder, challenging policies and conditions at the federal Bureau of Prisons’ Communications Management Units, and is counsel for plaintiffs in Ashker v. Brown, challenging long-term solitary confinement at California's Pelican Bay Special Housing Unit, and Blum v. Holder, a First Amendment challenge to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. Alexis was also lead counsel in Doe v. Jindal and Doe v. Caldwell, challenging a Louisiana law that requires individuals convicted of Crime Against Nature to register as sex offenders. Before joining CCR, Alexis was a Senior Staff Attorney at the Office of the Appellate Defender (OAD), and Director of OAD’s Reinvestigation Project. Alexis was a Karpatkin Fellow with the Racial Justice Program at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and graduated from Yale Law School, where he was a Coker Fellow and interned at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Institutions, organizations, and artists have grappled with the need to preserve and provide access to audiovisual materials stored in aging and obsolete audiovisual and digital formats for decades; however, issues related to the cost of storage, equipment and time required for digital reformatting have presented challenges for those with limited resources. Recently, projects such as XFR STN at the New Museum in New York, have worked with multiple practitioners to provide common access to at-risk video materials and make media preservation services available at a grassroots level.
In this session, various participants in XFR STN will reflect on the outcome of the project and discuss radical possibilities that can be brought about through collaboration amongst institutions, communities, and individuals with various disciplinary vantage points.
The program will include a screening of select videos digitized during the course of the project from the New Museum Archives and Monday/Wednesday/Friday Video Club, and will end with a moderated Q&A session.
Johanna Burton is Director and Curator of Education at the New Museum. Prior to holding this position, she was the Director of The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College Masters program, and Associate Director and Senior Faculty Member at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program. Her writing has appeared in publications including Artforum, October, and Texte Zur Kunst.
Coleen Fitzgibbon and Andrea Callard are both artists and filmmakers based in New York City. Between 1978 and 1980, as officers of Colab, they co-created a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizational structure so the group could receive public funding, laying the groundwork for the first Colab live TV shows All Color News and Potato Wolf. In addition, Callard is a founding member of XFR Collective; a newly formed collective body of artists and preservation practitioners that provide acces;=sible media preservation services in NYC.
Tara Hart is a Digital Archivist at the New Museum where she oversees the Museum’s Institutional Archives. Recently, Hart co-organized “Occupied Territory: A New Museum Trilogy,” (January 22—April 13, 2014) presentation of archival material and artworks that chart the development of three New Museum exhibitions that responded to the increasingly global art world of the early 1990s. Prior to joining the New Museum, Hart worked as an archivist at the Public Art Fund and subsequently the Fales Library and Special Collections, where she processed the Group Material Archive. She holds a BA in Visual Art-Media from the University of California, San Diego and an MLS from Pratt Institute in New York.
Alan W. Moore is an art historian and activist whose work addresses cultural economies and groups and the politics of collectivity. From 1986-2000, Moore directed the Monday/Wednesday/Friday Video Club distribution project, a co-op “store” of the artists group Colab (Collaborative Projects, Inc.), which showed and sold artists’ and independent films and videos on VHS at consumer prices.
Leeroy Kun Young Kang is a visual artist, film curator, and a MLS candidate at Queens College whose research focuses on digital preservation, artist archives, and audiovisual collections. Kang is a past XFR STN A/V Technician and Digital Archives Fellow at the New Museum and is currently a Digitization Technician at the New-York Historical Society. He holds a BA in Studio Art from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Conference attendees are invited to visit participating NYU archives and libraries to browse the stacks, learn about the collections, and view exhibitions and installations on view.
The Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University form a unique, internationally-known center for scholarly research on Labor and the Left. The primary focus is the complex relationship between trade unionism and progressive politics and how this evolved over time. Archival, print, photograph, film, and oral history collections describe the history of the labor movement and how it related to the broader struggle for economic, social, and political change. On view at Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives is Driving for Justice, an exhibition featuring materials from the New York Taxi Workers Alliance Records, which found a home at NYU through the A/P/A Institute’s Asian/Pacific American Archives Survey project. Upon entering Bobst Library, inform the security guard that you are visiting Tamiment Library for a special event and take the elevator to the tenth floor.
The Fales Library, comprising nearly 250,000 volumes, close to 10,000 linear feet of archive and manuscript materials, and about 75,000 audiovisual elements, houses the Fales Collection of rare books and manuscripts in English and American literature, the Downtown Collection, the Food and Cookery Collection, the Riot Grrrl Collection, and the general Special Collections of the NYU Libraries. Marvin Taylor (Director, NYU Fales Library & Special Collections) leads a tour through the stacks and GoNightclubbing Video Lounge (on view through May 31, 2014). The multi-media installation, curated by Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong, pays tribute to the infamous Danceteria Video Lounge, which they created in 1980. The re-imagined Video Lounge installation celebrates Ivers and Armstrong’s work at the iconic Danceteria nightclub, where they pioneered the video DJ concept during the height of the punk rock era. Upon entering Bobst Library, inform the security guard that you are visiting Fales Library for a special event and take the elevator to the third floor.
The Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at New York University was created in 1966 to foster the interdisciplinary study of the modern and contemporary Middle East and to enhance public understanding of the region. On view at the Richard Ettinghausen Library at the NYU Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern is Index of the Disappeared: Parasitic Archive, installed by Mariam Ghani and Chitra Ganesh, the 2013-14 Artists-in-Residence at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU. A library-within-a-library version of the Index of the Disappeared archive, the installation integrates literary and media resources culled from the library’s collection with primary source documents from the Index’s collection, to temporarily re-design the library environment. Index of the Disappeared: Parasitic Archive will be on view through May 12, 2014, Monday-Friday, 9AM-5PM except when occasional lectures take place. Please see neareaststudies.as.nyu.edu/page/events before planning your visit.
Harrison Apple is the 2013 Artist in Residence for the Center for the Arts in Society at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his BHA from Carnegie Mellon University where he was awarded the Dietrich Humanities Prize and the Samuel Roseburg Fine Art Award. In 2011 He founded the Pittsburgh Queer History Project and has since cataloged thousands of photographs, articles, and conducted extensive community profiling and interviews. He has presented his work at Carnegie Mellon, MIT, the Andy Warhol Museum, and has acted as a researcher and design assistant for the Museum of Sex in New York.
Lucky After Dark: Gay & Lesbian Night Club Communities in Pittsburgh, 1960-1990
Invisibility still dominates the discussion of GLBT community formation in the 20th- century. Assumptions that gay life evolved in San Francisco, New York, or LA while smaller cities lagged behind or remained off the grid are rebuked by the example of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where a queer working-class world evolved in reaction to local conditions, opportunities, and restraints.
“Lucky After Dark” tracks the emergence of a gay and lesbian demimonde in post-war Pittsburgh utilizing an extensive archive of primary material collected by bar owners and community members from 1960-1990, including oral histories, photographs, videos, and material culture. One key informant is “Lucky,” or “the Pope of gay Pittsburgh,” an entrepreneur who was central to gay nightlife for thirty years. Profitably exploiting a niche between legal authority and criminal activity, Lucky and other club owners developed a network of institutions that eventually acted as a precursor to broader political engagement and recognition.
Andrew Campbell, Ph.D., is a Senior Lecturer in Art History at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. His work centers on the negotiations of sex and community, with particular attention to contemporary queer identities and visibilities. He is also an independent curator and critic.
Clubs That Don't Exist Anymore': Viola Johnson's Mobile Archive & Pin Sash
Viola Johnson is an archivist (untrained) and a self-identified black, lesbian, submissive (highly trained). Johnson’s story of leather identity and archiving traces a path from New Jersey to Oklahoma and back again. Spurred by a childhood book-burning incident in her hometown library in Rossell, New Jersey, Johnson began, as an adult, to collect and store materials related to BDSM cultures (both straight and LGBTQ) in her house. Unlike the more formalized Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago, which would also provide a fascinating case-study on the myriad ways that leather history is being written and presented, Johnson’s library and her pin sash of many thousands of pins is less formalized, more improvisatory, and importantly, more mobile. Composed of over 9,000 books, papers, magazines, posters, clothing, photos and sex toys, The Carter/Johnson Library ambitiously tours gay, lesbian and pansexual leather events across the country. The library’s presence at these events – often held in hotels and ballrooms - is meant to bring history to the playroom, with Johnson and her crew of “griots” presiding over the ad hoc archive. This paper considers the lineaments of Johnson’s archival practice/performance as an alternative method of mobilizing community around unofficial and overlooked histories of sexuality. Through examining a small number of pins from Johnson’s pin sash (the archive within the archive), I offer a way of “reading” leather history centered on processes of differentiation and destabilization. Johnson’s mission of service to others – which she takes seriously as a leather player and archivist – has the radical potential to reformat the library/archive as a place of un-mastery.
Ryan Conrad is an outlaw artist, terrorist academic, and petty thief from a mill town in central Maine. He is the co-founder of the Against Equality collective and continues his involvement in the project as a member of the editorial collective. His work as a visual and performing artist has exhibited internationally in Europe, Asia, and across the United States and Canada. He continues to write for both academic and non-academic presses as well as present his written and visual work at academic and activist conferences. Conrad’s work is archived at faggotz.org along with his record of work as a community activist and organizer. Conrad is currently a Sexuality Studies PhD candidate at Concordia University in Montréal and holds an MFA from the Maine College of Art.
Against Equality: Reinvigorating the Queer Political Imagination
The Against Equality archives serve as an introduction to the diverse array of radical queer and trans critiques leveled against mainstream gay and lesbian politics. Our hope is that by engaging with the ideas in our archives, readers can go on to build broader and more nuanced critiques that best reflect the specificity of their own communities. Our archive is by no means exhaustive or complete, but represents what we found to be some of the best and most convincing critiques articulated through textual and visual means over the last century.
Beyond the immediate purpose of building a larger, more critically engaged community of radical queer and trans folks, we see the relevance of our archival work as even more important today than ever before. As a collective we have witnessed the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the summer of 2013, the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) in autumn 2011, and the passage of federal hate crime laws in the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act; we want to be sure that voices of resistance to this staunchly conservative gay agenda are not erased and written out of history. The visual and textual works in our archives are like bread crumbs, laying out different pathways to justice and resistance for those that dare to imagine a more just world. When people look back on these desperately conservative gay times, we hope our collective voices can be an inspiration to those who come after us—those that look to our queer histories, just like we did, as a site of rejuvenation, excitement, and hope.
Carlos Motta is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work draws upon political history in an attempt to create counter narratives that recognize the recognition of suppressed histories, communities, and identities. His recent exhibitions and screenings include The International Film Festival Rotterdam, the First International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Cartagena, and global aCtIVSm, ZKM, Karlsruhe. In March, he delivered a keynote presentation during the conference 'Visual Activism' organized by SFMoMA in San Francisco, and in 2014 he will participate in the X Gwangju Biennale and 'Inventer le possible' at Jeu de Paume in Paris. Together with AA Bronson, Motta convened in November 2013 the event ritual of queer rituals at Witte de With in Rotterdam. Motta guest edited the e-flux journal April 2013 issue, “(im)practical (im)possibilities” on contemporary queer art and culture. He is part of the faculty at Parsons The New School of Design, The School of Visual Arts and is visiting faculty at the Pratt Institute in spring 2014.
In this panel members of a recent delegation of librarians and archivists to Palestine will explore key themes in understanding the histories, challenges and current work of both community and institutional archives projects. Panelists will discuss the destruction of archival collections as well as their rediscovery and recovery, current documentation projects, and will critically explore the role of archives in political practice.
Grace Lile is Director of Operations and Archives at the human rights organization WITNESS, where she founded the WITNESS Media Archive in 2004. She holds a BA in cinema studies and theater from Hunter College and an MLIS from Pratt Institute. At WITNESS she co-produced the Activists’ Guide to Archiving Video, an online resource in English, Spanish, and Arabic. She is currently an adjunct teacher in NYU’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program.
Mezna Qato (delegation coordinator) completed her doctorate on the history of Palestinian education at St. Antony’s College, Oxford. She is currently Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Fellow at the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University. She has done extensive work as both historian and archivist in Palestine, amongst Palestinian communities in exile, and in the Arab world. Active in academic, community, and solidarity initiatives, Mezna most recently co-edited a special issue of Settler Colonial Studies. She is Palestinian and based between Oxford, Chicago, and Tulkarm.
Maggie Schreiner is an archivist at the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. She holds an MA in Archives and Public History from NYU. As an academic and an activist, Maggie is interested in the creation of historical memory in social justice organizing. Maggie is a member of NYC tenant union the Metropolitan Council on Housing, and she curated an online exhibition on the organization's history.
Rachel Mattson is a historian and information worker living in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a PhD in US history (NYU, 2004) and an MSLIS (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 2014). She currently works as the Director of Special Projects at the La Mama Experimental Theater Archive and as the Archivist for Occuprint. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, and spends a lot of time worrying about the impending obsolescence of analog videotape.
Maria Isabel Alfonso (Saint Joseph’s College, Long Island Campus, NY) is a specialist on the 1960s in Cuba, focusing on the publishing project of the writers’ collective El Puente. [Dinámicas culturales de los años sesenta en Cuba: Ediciones El Puente y otras zonas creativas de conflicto]. She is one of the only people to have published on this artist group and she has developed an extensive archive on the race politics of that period.
Susan Lord is an Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Media, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Affiliated with the Graduate Program in Cultural Studies, as well as the Departments of Art and Gender Studies, she researches in the areas of cinema and media arts; cosmopolitanism; new media, gendered spaces and the city; and Cuban cinema and visual culture. She has undertaken curatorial projects of media arts, worked with artists groups and artist-run centres for over 20 years. She has been a member of the Public Access collective since 1995. Public Access is an artist-run collective that publishes PUBLIC: art, culture, ideas. PUBLIC has provided a forum combining critical thinking with visual art for over 20 years producing an aesthetically engaging journal which explores themes in-depth in each issue. Susan has published three books: (with Janine Marchessault) Fluid Screens: Expanded Cinema and Digital Cultures. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007; Paperback edition 2008; (with Annette Burfoot) Killing Women: Gender, Violence and Representation. Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2006; (with K. Dubinsky, C. Krull, S. Mills, S. Rutherford) New World Coming: The Sixties and the Shaping of Global Consciousness. Palgrave and Between the Lines Press, 2009.
Decolonizing Cosmopolitianism: Havana Archives, 1959-68
The new forms of belonging and engagement available to women, racialized minorities, and newly decolonized peoples in the 1960s in many parts of the world were quickly threatened by national, colonial and patriarchal traditions that formed both their context and their subjective terrain. The political landscape of Latin America in the 1960s was characterized by the philosophy of liberation, the development of popular and independence movements, the Cold War, a bipolar World, and U.S. military interventions to impose economic and political dependence. Cuba’s social and cultural experimentation in the 1960s has been cast into the shadow of other historical events with which it is associated (UMAP; the Missile Crisis; Bay of Pigs); however, Havana in the 1960s saw an intensification of the role culture played in the making of citizens and a simultaneous connectivity to the global imaginary, producing a new possible form of cosmopolitanism through networks made across previously unbridgeable cultural, social and national borders. The broad and general objective of this research is to bring to light those connectivities and theorize the underlying imaginary of a decolonized form of cosmopolitanism. By “decolonized cosmopolitanism” we mean to point to an attitude and a material condition of belonging to a world made by those who for centuries had no “world” to which to belong. With this term as our probe, we seek a better understanding of the limits and expediencies of culture in efforts to transform citizenship from its function in the liberal order of individuals, nation-states, nationalisms, and the markets that mediate each to each, toward that of an active participant in the making of a new society.
The Cuban Revolution - only four years after the meetings in Bandung, Indonesia - promised to bring to the word “citizenship” the agency and freedom stripped from it by colonialism and imperialism. Political theorists, activists, journalists, philosophers, poets, painters, filmmakers, students, came to Havana from Paris, Montreal, Santiago, Harlem, Rome, Istanbul, Berlin (East and West), Moscow, Buenos Aires, Kingston (Jamaica), and other capitals to see and to participate in a new world in the making. In the same moment, the citizen became defined around a particular form of hetero-militancy, and the invitations to “the world” were in tension with the discipline and incarceration of gay Cubans. These inner tensions within the possibility of decolonizing cosmopolitanism are at the centre of our work. These large and general concerns about culture and citizenship will be grounded in the visual culture of Havana during its most open period as a decolonized cosmopolitan centre, from 1959 (the triumph of the revolution) to 1968 (the beginning of what are known as the "grey years" of Sovietization of culture and society).
Vivek Bald is a documentary filmmaker, writer and scholar whose work focuses on histories of the South Asian diaspora. His films include "Taxi-vala/Auto-biography," (1994) which explored the lives, struggles, and activism of New York City taxi drivers from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and "Mutiny: Asians Storm British Music" (2003) a hybrid music documentary/social documentary about South Asian youth, music, and anti-racist politics in 1970s-90s Britain. Bald is currently working on a transmedia project aimed at recovering the histories of peddlers and steamship workers from British colonial India who came to the United States during the Asian exclusion era and settled within U.S. communities of color. The project consists of a book, Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America (Harvard University Press, 2013); a documentary film, “In Search of Bengali Harlem,” (currently in production); and a digital oral history website being developed at losthistoriesproject.com. Bald is co-editor, with Miabi Chatterji, Sujani Reddy, and Manu Vimalassery, of the recently published collection, The Sun Never Sets: South Asian Migrants in an Age of U.S. Power (NYU Press, 2013). He has also begun work on a second single-author book, about fantasies of India in American consumer culture at the turn of the twentieth century, centering on the epic story of the United States’ first curry chef. Bald is Associate Professor of Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Radical Recovery: Documenting the Undocumented in South Asian American History
Both before and after the 1917 Asiatic Barred Zone Act “closed the doors” to Asian immigration, many other groups of South Asian migrants came to and made their lives in the United States, including performers, students, nurses, political exiles, and the children of Indian indentured laborers from the Caribbean. This paper/presentation will focus on two such groups – peddlers and seamen – who, between the 1890s and 1940s, came to the U.S. in the thousands. These migrants were predominantly Muslim men from regions of present-day Bangladesh and Indian West Bengal. They entered the United States through Eastern ports and moved through the U.S. Northeast, Midwest, and South, building clandestine networks, navigating racial segregation, and living in the shadows of the immigration laws. They settled within African American and Puerto Rican communities in U.S. cities, where many married local women and started families; their children grew up as part of neighborhoods such as Tremé, Black Bottom, and Harlem, from the 1910s through the 1970s. Their histories of collective life-making on the racialized margins of the United States are not recorded in any straightforward existing archive. The peddlers and seamen for the most part were non-literate and did not leave behind letters, writings, or first hand accounts, and under the immigration laws of their day, their first imperative was to become invisible to the authorities. The traces of their travels, work, relationships, and settlement thus exist in hundreds of scattered and fragmentary archival records – ship manifests; census sheets; marriage, birth, and death certificates – and in the memories and personal photographs of their descendants within contemporary African American and Puerto Rican communities. My presentation will center on the archival practices that I have followed in an effort to recover and represent these histories across various media. I will discuss the process of connecting disparate archival records – many originally intended as means of state surveillance and control – in order to map the presence of South Asian Muslims in U.S. neighborhoods of color; to trace out their global and local networks; and to understand the crucial role that African American and Puerto Rican women played in the functioning of these ostensibly “South Asian” networks. I will also discuss the development of a web-based alternative archive - an online space in which the children and descendants of South Asian- African American-Puerto Rican families are contributing stories and images to build an ongoing, expanding, multi-vocal account of their own histories.
Dr. John Bradley is the Deputy Director of the Monash Indigenous Centre and has worked for 35 years in the Northern Territory of Australia. His research has centred on working with Indigenous peoples to record their own Indigenous knowledges in ways that are useful to them. He has also worked on a number of land and sea claims assisting Indigenous peoples in regaining their traditional lands. More recently he has been developing ways in which his own field work can be returned to Indigenous communities, the animations project of which his is the director has been a part of this.
Dr. Shannon Faulkhead’s research concentrates on the location of Koorie peoples and their knowledge within the broader Australian society and its collective knowledge as reflected through narratives and records. To date Shannon’s multi- disciplinary research has centred on community and archival collections of records. As the Finkel Fellow, attached to Monash Country Lines Archive, Monash University, will allow for greater exploration and development in the area of Indigenous archiving.
Indigenous Peoples Living Archive
The Monash Country Lines Archive (MCLA) is working with the concept of a ‘living archive’ as a decolonised space, where Indigenous Australian communities are confident in storing their knowledge and records. Through the development of partnerships with Indigenous communities across Australia, the MCLA is using cutting edge 3D animation technologies to assist in the preservation of their history, knowledge, poetry, songs, performance and language. These animations provide material for Elders and younger generations to sit together and share knowledge. The affective responses to seeing technology re-represent back to them stories that have deep cultural resonances, has resulted in growing interest from others. This has reinforced our hope that through the use of technology, this project will support existing Indigenous archives and not subsume them. This method of archiving is groundbreaking and exciting not only for Indigenous communities, but also for academics and archivists worldwide.
Dr. Rosie Kar graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, having earned her Master’s and PhD from the Comparative Literature Program, with a doctoral emphasis in Feminist Studies. Her dissertation was entitled "What Can Brown Do for You? Citizenship and Desire: The South Asian Diasporic Body.” While at UC Santa Barbara, she taught in the Comparative Literature Program, the Department of Asian American Studies, the Department of Feminist Studies, and the Writing Program. She also graduated from the Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture, and Society, from the University of Amsterdam. She now teaches in the Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, at California State University, Long Beach, where her courses center on popular culture, women writers of color, and women's health and sexuality. Her scholarly research is on the intersections of literary studies, critical race theory, feminist theory, history, media studies, social justice and activism, and popular culture, which has allowed her to develop interdisciplinary strengths in both the humanities and social sciences, including South Asian Studies, Asian American Studies, Subaltern Studies, Diasporic Studies, New Sexuality Studies, Women's and Gender Studies, and post-colonial theory. She is a writer, poet, social justice advocate, documentary filmmaker, and a core member of South Asians for Justice, Los Angeles. She has published in the most recent iteration of Asian Americans: An Encyclopedia of Social, Cultural, Economic, and Political History, for the Asian American Women Artist's Association, and YoDesh.com.
Legacies of the Ghadar di Goonj In the early twentieth century, the Ghadar di Goonj, translated as “Echoes of Mutiny” or “Calls to Revolution,” were produced by the Ghadar Party in San Francisco. This series of papers, consisting of poetry and op-ed articles, were circulated throughout the United States and the globe, articulating the need for action, cooperation, and response to injustice and mistreatment. The first appearance of South Asians in the American imagination and public was in the labor communities of the West Coast, made visible by the activities of the Ghadar Party. However, many of these archives are fractured, incomplete, and inaccessible. This paper situates and exposits on the links between the experiences of colonized people, specifically those under the rule of the British Raj, who were also the first South Asian Americans to form communities committed to revolution in the United States, and the current legacies of radical politics and activism present in California. Faced with discriminatory laws brought against them, and mass amounts of injustice and mistreatment by the American public, laborers and students sought to create safe spaces for themselves, out of which emerged the Ghadar Party, inclusive of all South Asians, regardless of religious affiliation. First, I postulate an exposition on the Ghadar party and its literature; as the first signs of “brown” in the American imaginary, their activities were localized, but their intentions were for larger, radical action. They wished to break away from the yoke of the British Raj, to engender equality and safe working conditions, and to be part of the privileged group of Americans who enjoyed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. While they were not necessarily part of the multicultural national imagined community, their revolutionary activities did not go unnoticed, and they were placed under mediated and severe surveillance by the U.S. government, under the urging of British colonial power, guided by Orientalist discursive formations. Their activities were broadened to a national scale in the domain of the law, with the sensational case of Bhagat Singh Thind making an indelible mark on the constitution of brownness in the United States. How are they remembered in historical and literary canons? How can we recover fractured, mistranslated archives? How were the intersectionalities of race, class, gender, and sexuality reflected in their work? How does affective archiving resonate within silenced histories? How do we recover those archives, working in piecemeal fashion, in translation, to honor their legacies and? Although the Ghadar Party’s goals were ultimately not realized in an imagined mass revolution, their ideologies around social justice remain intact, inspiring young, progressive South Asian Americans to act today. Their legacy is continued through organizations like South Asians for Justice-Los Angeles, Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, Bay Area Solidarity Summer, and South Asian Sisters. South Asian Americans occupy a specific locale in the current American imaginary, often falling into the category of the model minority, but are also placed under surveillance under current tenets of Islamophobia.
Grace L. Sanders Johnson is a historian and art archivist. Currently, she works as a Postdoctoral Fellow for Academic Diversity at the University of Pennsylvania, Department of Africana Studies where she specializes in Modern Caribbean and Latin American History, Transnational Feminisms, and Oral History, with a focus on Haitian women’s history. Through her research in Haiti and Canada, Grace worked with the Haiti Group in Concordia University’s Oral History Project Histoire de Vie, where she co-produced an oral archive on violence and Haitian migration to Canada. In addition to her study of twentieth century gender, sexuality, migration, and Haitian women's social and political organizing, Grace is collaborating with colleagues in Haiti and throughout the diaspora to establish a Haitian women’s oral history archive.
Are You Recording This?: Haitian Expressions, Translations and Art
This paper is a meditation on archival meaning and making in Haiti and the Haitian diaspora. Using the interviews of Haitian women in Haiti, Canada, and the United States, this paper considers the intersection between memory, voice, and art. The paper focuses on the author’s ongoing public installation titled Vwa Fanm/La Voix des Femmes (Women’s Voice) that responds to the archival silences regarding Haitian women’s lives in the written historical record. Vwa Fanm is an oral history archive that uses visual art and sound to provide a multi-sensory record of migration, love, violence, and family in twentieth century Haiti and the diaspora. Guided by the recurring question “Are you recording this?,” this paper uses Vwa Fanm to consider the desire, excitement, and apprehension of preserving experience. The presentation will consider “safe” mediums of archiving Haitian women’s lives and alternative representations of “the archive” that are useful in documenting the multiple registers of history.
Dean Itsuji Saranillio received his Ph.D. from the Program in American Culture at the University of Michigan. His teaching and research interests are in Indigenous studies, Asian American and Pacific Islander histories, and cultural studies. Currently, he is working on a manuscript on the admission of Hawai‘i as a U.S. state, examining the complex interplay between different Asian American groups, Native Hawaiians, and whites within historical flashpoints of interaction shaped by opposing versions of history. By assembling indigeneity with other analytics, he theorizes the productive tensions created by placing Asian American and Indigenous histories in conversation. Saranillio's essays have been featured in American Quarterly, Journal of Asian American Studies, and several anthologies.
Kate Eichhorn is a writer and cultural critic and Assistant Professor of Culture and Media Studies at The New School. She has published widely on the subjects of feminist, queer and artist archives. She’s the author of several books, including The Archival Turn in Feminism (Temple University Press, 2013).
Reassessing the Archival Turn in Queer Theory
While theorists have evoked the archive as a powerful trope to grapple with everything from subcultural excess to collective trauma, a generation of queer artists has turned to the archive to explore the aesthetic and political efficacy of everything from everyday objects to the refuse of abandoned radical movements. Along the way, the archive has become shorthand for all kinds of things from films and art installations to bodies and communities of dissent. Put into circulation in queer theory and contemporary art and performance, however, what we think about as an archive has not only expanded but also come undone. Without fully rejecting this queering of the archive, this paper questions at what cost and at what cost to whom the archive has been recast in queer theory and more generally, cultural theory. Specifically, this paper considers what and whose narratives, including whose narratives of labor, are placed under erasure by this semantic drift and most critically, whether the archive’s expanded definition under queer theory necessarily serves the long-term interests of queer communities and more broadly, radical social movements.
Kwame Holmes is an Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder. His research engages the intersection of race, sexuality and class politics within the history of the modern city. His essay “Planning Around Queer Time: African American Heritage Trails and the Life Cycle of a Ghetto Neighborhood” will appear in a special issue on Race and Space in Occasion edited by Wendy Cheng and Rashad Shabazz. He is currently working on a book manuscript on the intertwined history of black, gay, black gay, and urban development politics in Washington, D.C. entitled "Chocolate to Rainbow City: Branding Black and Gay in the District of Columbia, 1953-1989."
What’s The T?: Gossip, Anonymity and Black Queer Historiography
This essay explores the possibility of rumor and gossip, oral traditions that resist professionalized archival spaces, as an alternative source of black LGBT historiography surrounding the relationship between black and gay identity and politics during the critical decades of the 1970s. I examine a set of unconfirmed rumors that circulate within Black Queer social networks in Washington, D.C. concerning the sexual orientation of Rev. Douglas Moore’s son. Moore was president of the Black United Front and one of the biggest opponents of gay liberal activism in the 1970s (his 1976 campaign for city council was organized against Guns, Grass and Gays). Yet Moore also employed a number of non- heterosexual (though not necessarily gay identified) black men in his campaign operation. In “off the record” conversations with one of Moore’s former employees, a man I call “Chris,” I was told that Moore emerged as a strong opponent to gay rights after catching his son in bed with another man. Offered up as a response to my inquiry into what Moore’s homophobia “was all about,” the rumor does work to reconcile the identitarian crisis produced by the oppositional affective and political geographies that are often demanded by mutually exclusive notions of black radical and white gay liberal politics in the nineteen seventies. By emphasizing a set of intimate family relations as the source of Moore’s anti-gay rhetoric, (and in refusing to link their names with the stories) is a profound metaphor for the way local emotional networks often precluded black participation in gay movements populated by predominately recent white migrants to the city. Most critically though, is that regardless of the rumor’s facticity, its circulation reveals black queer people’s uneven access to archival territory in the post- Civil Rights/proto gentrified city and offers queer historians an opportunity to push back against the ways gentrification displaces black bodies and histories from gay and lesbian community.
Daniel Marshall is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. His current research focuses on histories of homosexuality and youth, archival practices and theories, and contemporary queer youth cultures and media. His writing has appeared in journals such as Continuum: the Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, the Journal of Bisexuality and Sex Education; and in edited collections including After Homosexual: The Legacies of Gay Liberation (UWA Press), Zombies in the Academy: Living Death in Higher Education (Intellect Press) and Bodies of Evidence: the practice of queer oral history (Oxford University Press). He is currently co-editing, with Zeb Tortorici and Kevin Murphy, a two-volume special issue of Radical History Review on “Queering Archives”. For a decade he has worked as a volunteer at the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, which included co-editing the popular history book, Secret Histories of Queer Melbourne (2011). In 2014 he is a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (City University of New York) and at the Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research (London South Bank University). He has a PhD in Cultural Studies from the University of Melbourne.
Archiving Pleasures: Some Queer Comparisons
This paper, co-authored with Zeb Tortorici, reflects on the histories of LGBT/queer archives and the ways in which these archives frame key contemporary questions about the politics and practices of histories of sexuality and gender. Many gay and lesbian archives and historical collections emerged during the liberationist 1970s, and in different parts of the world these archives are grappling with the pressures of generational transition brought on by the aging of the founding generation. This paper locates itself at this transitional moment, reflecting on uses of LGBTQ archives, as well as the specific ways in which particular “queer” pleasures and desires—archival, historical, political and sexual—serve to inform the logics, subjects, and erasures of archives. We are especially interested in interrogating how some queer archival narratives privilege models of subject recovery, such that they purport to recuperate (queer) voices and subjectivities of the past. Whether or not they are articulated as such, do queer archives reassert traditional notions of archival authority, or do they seek to alter the idiom through which the subjects of the archive are constructed? While avoiding simplistic laudatory readings of queer archive formation, our goal is to examine the complications, erasures, and racial/gendered/class implications of queer archival engagements (as well as the ways in which some queer archives and archivists struggle against such phenomena).
David Serlin is associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of Replaceable You: Engineering the Body in Postwar America (University of Chicago Press, 2004), for which he received the Alan Bray Memorial Book Award from the Modern Language Association, and Window Shopping with Helen Keller: Architecture and Disability in Modern Culture (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming). He has also edited or coedited a number of books, including Policing Public Sex: Queer Politics and the Future of AIDS Activism (South End Press, 1996), Artificial Parts, Practical Lives: Modern Histories of Prosthetics (NYU Press, 2002), Imagining Illness: Public Health and Visual Culture (University of Minnesota Press, 2010), and Keywords in Disability Studies (NYU Press, forthcoming). He is a longstanding member and former co-chair of the editorial collective for the Radical History Review, and an editor-at-large for the art and culture journal Cabinet.
Dress to Repress: Materializing Queerness and Disability in the Archive
This presentation will examine the multiple (and routinely ignored) political and artifactual relationships between objects of LGBTQ history and objects of disability history as collected, preserved, and often exhibited in museums archives in North America. In particular, this presentation will seek to connect and problematize recently exhibited articles of clothing, equipment, and accessories from the archives of Chicago’s Leather Archives & Museum and Canada’s Royal Ontario Museum. Drawing upon recent historical and ethnographic scholarship on the politics of archival practice as well as recent museum studies scholarship on collecting and exhibiting objects, this presentation will put diverse material objects – ranging from straitjackets and handcuffs to crutches and catheters – into dialogue into order to draw attention to the putative distinctions around ablebodied and disabled social practices and between histories of sexual subcultures and histories of disability representation and memory.
Zeb Tortorici is Assistant Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at New York University. He has published articles in Ethnohistory, the Journal of the History of Sexuality, History Compass, and e-misférica. He has also published chapters in the edited volumes Death and Dying in Colonial Spanish America and Queer Youth Cultures. With Martha Few, he recently co-edited Centering Animals in Latin American History (Duke University Press, 2013). With Daniel Marshall and Kevin Murphy, he is co-editing two special issues of Radical History Review on the topic of “queering archives.” With Pete Sigal and Erika Robb Larking, he is co-editing Ethnopornography: Sexuality, Colonialism, and Anthropological Knowing.
Interference Archive (IA) is a grassroots archive and social center in Brooklyn, NY which explores the relationship between cultural production and social movements. IA's collection consists of zines, pamphlets, fliers, posters, buttons, banners, audiovisual recordings and other ephemera came out of a personal collection, and has since expanded through donations from participants in global social movements. Through our exhibitions and programming, we offer creative ways of interacting with these materials, animating the histories of people mobilizing for social transformation. We consider our activities as a way to preserve and honor the historical narratives and material culture, which is often marginalized in the dominant paradigm.
IA was inspired in part by other grassroots archives— like the Lesbian Herstory Archive in Brooklyn— which were built as consciously political spaces to celebrate and make visible radical identities and social histories. For the past two years, we have been re-envisioning how an archive can function as a community-oriented, autonomous space, by encouraging critical and creative engagement with both historical and contemporary struggles. Such programming and exhibitions have focused on the global anti- nuclear movement post-WWII to post-Fukushima; student movements in Mexico City, Quebec, and NYC; the history of the Asian American movement in NYC, and a celebration of labor strikes.
We consider IA to be an “archive from below”, which exists outside of traditional institutions and intentionally disrupts hierarchical power dynamics through the content of the collection, organizational structure, and archival practices. To this end, we are a collectively-run and volunteer-operated project, maintain a publicly accessible collection and study center, collaborate with like-minded projects, and work to build solidarity and relationships with activists on the ground.
This roundtable discussion between Interference collective members and collaborators will examine how grassroots archives aim to disrupt notions of power in terms of opening up control over the telling of "official" historical narratives; force us to rethink the archival profession's assumptions about best practices for making information accessible; provide access to materials for people who had a hand in creating them; challenge concepts of ownership over historical cultural materials with a concept of custodianship; form organizational and information systems based on collective cultural knowledge; create space to build community and supportive networks; and offer prefigurative and creative ways of interacting and presenting history and contemporary movements, while instigating the creation of new cultural production for current social movements. We will also discuss some of the specific theoretical and practical challenges IA has encountered, and how we have worked through them.
Molly Fair is an archivist and multi-disciplinary artist who enjoys working collaboratively. She has organized at Interference Archive since 2011, and has been active in curating exhibitions, organizing programming, and database building. She is also a member of Justseeds Artists' Cooperative, a collective producing art in support of social movements. She is interested in the ways communities document themselves outside of "official" institutions.
Bonnie Gordon is a Master's candidate in New York University’s Archives and Public History program and a Student Archives Assistant the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. She has volunteered with IA since the spring of 2013 and has helped develop a digital preservation plan as a member of their Born Digital and Digitization Working Group. Bonnie is interested in digital preservation, community archiving, access to archives, and how all three areas intersect.
Jen Hoyer has worked as a librarian at public, school, and special libraries. Originally from Canada, she has been volunteering at IA since 2013, and is excited about problem-solving ways to make less-accessible formats of ephemera and grey literature more accessible. Jen believes in libraries and archives because of their potential for creating more inclusive communities through wider access to information.
Anika Paris is an archives student at Queens College's Graduate School of Library and Information Science. A volunteer at Interference Archive since February 2013, Anika has worked on the Strike Then, Strike Now! show, and works on exhibits and programming related to police and prisons. Anika is also a longtime member of Books Through Bars NYC, volunteers with the Picture the Homeless Liberation Library, and practices some divisive strains of black feminism in her free time.
Blithe Riley is an artist, activist and organizer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her multi-disciplinary practice explores the role of work in daily life, including its influence on identity, politics, and building social movements. Blithe began volunteering at the IA in 2012 and works primarily on the programming and outreach aspects ofthe archive. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Labor Studies at the Murphy Institute at the City University of New York.
Ryan Lee Wong organized the exhibition Serve the People: The Asian American Movement in New York at Interference Archive in Brooklyn. He was previously Assistant Curator at Museum of Chinese in America, where he organized the exhibition June 4, 1989, and assisted on numerous exhibitions. He has contributed writing to Hyperallergic, The Brooklyn Rail, and ArtSlant.
Anne McClintock is the author of Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest, short biographies of Olive Schreiner and Simone de Beauvoir, and a monograph on madness, sexuality and colonialism called Double Crossings. She co-edited Dangerous Liaisons with Ella Shohat and Aamir Mufti, edited a special issue of Social Text on "Sex Workers and Sex Work," and co-edited "Queer Transexions of Race, Nation and Gender" with Jose Munos and Trish Rosen. McClintock has published over 50 articles, essays and reviews on sexualities and gender, race, nationalism and imperialism, and material and visual culture. She is currently finishing three books: a creative non-fiction book titled Skin Hunger: A Chronicle of Sex, Money and Desire (Jonathan Cape), Planet of Intimate Trespass: Sexuality, Property and Power in a Global Era (Routledge), and The Sex Work Reader (Vintage), an edited anthology. She is working on a new book titled Imperial Ghosting. Perpetual War and the Twilight of U.S. Power (Duke University Press). McClintock has been the recipient of many awards, including two MacArthur-SSRC Fellowships, and a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, and fifteen artist residency fellowships.
Imperial Ghosting: The Return of Indian Country and Hiroshima in the War on Terror
In this paper I explore the persistent ghosting from official U.S. history of the foundational atrocities of the long, near- genocide of indigenous peoples and the nuclear obliterations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I trace how the unquiet dead of Indian Country and Ground Zero have come to haunt the continuing “Global War on Terror” as collective hallucination and extravagant violence. I explore the pervasiveness in U.S. history of the military metaphor of “Indian Country” as a floating, displaced country of the mind to define insurgent territories in active war zones around the world, from the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond. In the process, I explore the spectral hinges that connect the stolen time of indigenous American Indian peoples, the time-zero of atomic war, and the permanently-ticking paranoid time of the War on Terror. In company with critics such as Avery Gordon and Gabriele Schwab, I am interested in the question of historical ghosting because ghosts point to places where erased or unresolved state or imperial violence has occurred. I argue that imperial ghosting marks disturbances in history: administered forgettings, guarded and unspeakable secrets, that nonetheless leave material traces: in photographs, language, bodily gestures, as a kind of counter-evidence that, if read against the grain, can point towards more enabling histories, political action and the possibilities of atonement.
Tina Campt is Professor of Africana and Women’s Gender and Studies, and Chair of the Africana Studies Department at Barnard College. An interdisciplinary scholar of African Diaspora Studies and Black European Studies, her published work theorizes gender, racial and diasporic formation in black communities in Germany, and Europe more broadly. She is the author of two books: Other Germans: Black Germans and the Politics of Race, Gender and Memory in the Third Reich (2004) is an oral history that explores the experiences of Black Germans during the Third Reich. Her second book, Image Matters: Archive, Photography and the African Diaspora in Europe (2012), explores the sensate registers of vernacular photography using early twentieth century family photography of Black Germans and Black Britons.
Hands in/on the Archive: The Fugitive Touch of Archival Photography
The human hand (in particular fingers, fingertips and the nerve endings that comprise it) is one of the most complexly sensate corporeal receptors, as well as one of the most expressive loci of social communication. Hands are a source of both physical contact and affective connection. A gesture of the hand solicits attention, elicits responses, defines relationships, and initiates a cascade of interactions that register at multiple sensory levels. Yet hands have also served as equally powerful visual evidence of racial and criminal pathology. This paper explores a set of recently uncovered albums of convict photos compiled between 1893 and 1903 and housed at the Archives of the Western Cape in South Africa. It engages the haptic dimensions of this photographic archive both in terms of the sensate and material dimensions of the albums as archival objects, as well as the haptics staged in the images themselves. The albums assemble two photographic portraits of each prisoner: one full-frontal with hands prominently displayed in designated locations on their uniforms; one displaying their hands positioned in relation to a second pathological indicator: the ear. The paper probes the interplay between the hands, the ears and other anthropometric indicators and theorizes the fugitive practices this photographic archive also reveals.
Deborah Thomas is the author of Exceptional Violence: Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica and Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization, and The Politics of Culture in Jamaica; and co-editor of the volume Globalization and Race: Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness. Her articles have appeared in a diverse range of journals including Cultural Anthropology, American Anthropologist, Radical History Review, small axe, Identities, and Feminist Review. Thomas was also editor of the journal Transforming Anthropology, and currently sits on the editorial boards of American Anthropologist and Social and Economic Studies. Thomas was also co-director and co-producer of the documentary film, “Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens,” which chronicles violence in Jamaica through the eyes of its most iconic community. Prior to her life as an academic, she was a professional dancer with the New York-based Urban Bush Women.
The Time of the Archive: Visual Anthropology and State Violence
This paper addresses the process of creating visual ethnographic archives of state violence. I draw from my experiences in two archives I have been involved in producing to think about how time “governs” not only the appearance but also the reception of archival "statements" in both instances, and to make some preliminary arguments about the role of visual culture in producing, reproducing, challenging, and/or undermining a sense of collectivity, as well as revealing something about the temporalities to which this imagining of collectivity is tethered.
Joy Garnett is an interdisciplinary, Brooklyn based artist who works with archives as subject and medium. Her projects employ painting, online repositories, and social media performance to explore the crossroads of our digital and material worlds. Her work has been shown at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Craft Portland, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (UK), Boston University Art Gallery, MoMA PS1, CUNY Graduate Center, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, and is included in the permanent collections of the National Academy of Sciences, Philip Morris, and The West Collection. She has received grants from Anonymous Was a Woman, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The Wellcome Trust, and The Chipstone Foundation. Garnett writes a regular column for Art21 Magazine and serves as Arts Editor of Cultural Politics, a refereed journal published by Duke University Press. Her writings have appeared in several anthologies as well as Harper's, Journal of Visual Culture, and Ibraaz, the leading critical forum on visual culture in North Africa and the Middle East. Garnett is Adjunct Professor in Digital and Interdisciplinary Art Practice (DIAP) at The City College of New York. She hopes to further realize projects drawn from the Abushady archive as part of her doctoral research at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton (UK).
Memory Loss: Excavating the Abushady Family Archive
This paper explores the relationship between the material archive and memory. I will examine the connections between the desire to preserve a legacy, the suppression of memory, the revision of history, and the contradictory and complimentary aspects of these tendencies, which issue from the same need to control the historical narrative. My point of departure for this study is my late Egyptian grandfather and his three children, and the latter generation’s capacity to revise their memories and suppress their connection to the larger historical-political landscape. I will demonstrate how, in the same breath, my grandfather and his children painstakingly and successfully preserved materials and minutiae that tell historically significant and culturally rooted stories. My grandfather was Dr. Ahmed Zaky Abushady (1892-1955), an influential Egyptian Romantic poet, scientist, and physician, as well as a builder of institutions and libraries. The materials he self-consciously preserved reflect a culturally expansive moment in Egypt's modern history, the period between the Egyptian revolutions of 1919 and 1952, and the World Wars. Abushady’s strategy for ensuring his place in the narrative of Egyptian Modernism included gifting books he authored to the world's major libraries. In his bid to control his position in this narrative, he made carbon copies of every letter he wrote, collating them with the letters he received in reply, and binding them in chronologically organized tomes. The desire to preserve this legacy was handed down from generation to generation directly from the man himself. Abushady’s children saved these and other materials, such as countless albums of photographs and ephemera, after his death. I, in turn, have begun to gather these materials to organize them as an archive that extends beyond the story of one family. In doing so, I have come to realize that the stories told by my relatives exist separately from the archive they so painstakingly preserved. Official family history pushes out actual memories, while conveniently ignoring the physical reminders that serve as markers for those memories. Confronted with this contradiction–preserving objects only to hide them–I seek to establish connections between the determined compiling and preservation of tangible archives, the recounting of official family histories, and the willful curtailing of memory and generating of family secrets. Thankfully, the content of the archive tells its own story.
Kameelah Janan Rasheed (b. 1985) is a community archivist and research-based artist working with photo installation, printmaking and book arts. She has exhibited throughout New York and her first solo exhibition No Instructions for Assembly debuted in 2013 at Real Art Ways in Hartford, CT. Selected residencies, fellowships and honors include: Vermont Studio Center (2014), Center for Book Arts (2013), The Laundromat Project (2013), Visual Artist Network Exhibition Residency and Community Grant (2013) Juror for Center for Photography at Woodstock residency (2013) and Center for Photography at Woodstock (2012). In 2013, she co-curated an artist-archivist symposium at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (2013) and will be curating an exhibition that explores the post-apartheid South African lesbian archive through the work of photographer Zanele Muholi at MoCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art). She has shared her thoughts on panels at Christie's, MoCADA, Residency Unlimited, Allied Media Conference, LaunchPad and The Gallery at Harlem PoP, among others. She received her Ed.M in 2008 from Stanford University and her BA in Public Policy and Africana Studies from Pomona College in 2006. Kameelah is a 2006 Amy Biehl U.S. Fulbright Scholar to South Africa. She works as a literacy coach for NYC public schools and a gallery/studio instructor at the Brooklyn Museum. kameelahr.com
No Instructions for Assembly - Archiving From the Margins with Fragments
A discussion of my archival installation 'No Instructions for Assembly' focusing on ideas such as spatial trauma/homelessness and archiving as a form of artistic reparations; intervening/interfering with the machinery of the official archive; reimagining personal histories using found and original fragments of photographs, texts, and objects; the footnotes and marginalized histories as an active site of conjuring/reactivating narratives; radical archiving as a project in radical cartography; and boundless considerations of who counts as an archivist and what is archival.
Ian Alden Russell is a curator, designer and professor based in Istanbul, Turkey. He is currently Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art, Curatorial Practice and Cultural Heritage at Koç University. He is also Guest Curator at the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University where he recently curated the premieres of The Strangest Fruit (2013) by San Antonio-based artist Vincent Valdez, Iraqi-American artist Wafaa Bilal’s The Ashes series (2003-2013) and Chinese artist Jin Shan’s My dad is Li Gang! 我爸是李刚! (2012). With an academic background in intellectual history, archaeology, and heritage studies, his work explores the agencies of artists in galleries, museums, heritage sites, and public spaces within the constitution of contemporary history and cultural heritage. He is currently editing two academic volumes (one for Routledge and another for Springer) on the relations between art, archaeology and curatorial practice. He received his Ph.D. in History from Trinity College, Dublin and has held research fellowships at the University of Notre Dame, University College Dublin, and Brown University.
The Innocent City: A Modest Archive of Everday Istanbul
Situated in Cihangir, the Museum of Innocence archives and presents the everyday life of the city of Istanbul in the 1970s through the intimate moments of two people. The collection represents an intimate archive assembled by the character Kemal in honor of his love Füsun in Orhan Pamuk’s novel The Museum of Innocence. Pamuk’s book and museum together present a manifesto for modest museums that archive and present the everyday lives of people often overlooked by national and state cultural institutions. The Innocent City will open at Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations in summer 2014. The project responds to Pamuk’s manifesto by moving from the intimate archive of the museum back into the public. Objects are selected from the Museum of Innocence and working with students, artists and local communities, Ian Alden Russell will depart from the Museum of Innocence to seek out the lives of these objects in the city of Istanbul today. Each selected object will present unique paths through the city and encounters (i.e. a tea cup might lead to a cold morning Bosporus crossing on a ferry or to a back alley tea garden and a intimate personal conversation). The lives of these objects are documented through photography, oral history, cartography, video and narrative writing – becoming an archive of stories of the city of Istanbul as it is today, as seen through intimate encounters with everyday objects from the Museum of Innocence’s collection.
Michelle Wong is a researcher at Asia Art Archive. Based in Hong Kong, she drives the Archive’s research projects in the city, including the recently launched Hong Kong art history research pilot project, in collaboration with the Hong Kong Museum of Art. Prior to joining AAA, she received her education in music and philosophy at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, USA and in art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, United Kingdom. Her research interests include mapping, magazines, and the intersections of sound, space, and technology.
Navigating and Research: Art History in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has often been described as a city that easily forgets. Sites in this affluent city are regularly, literally erased by urban (re)developments. With the passage of time, memories of demolished sites fade and disappear, and heritage remains largely an intangible notion. In the absence of museum and university archives pertaining to visual culture, art historical documents are often gathered and held by individuals privately. Institutional acts of collecting such materials, while reflecting and responding to their own agendas, create important resources that may not be easily accessed afterwards. Short-term research projects conducted by the academia also becomes a vehicle for collecting materials that primarily serve the purposes of writing and constructing art historical narratives. Only a small fraction of what has been collected is being published and circulated.
How does one make sense of such an array of archival holdings, which presents themselves not only with different levels of accessibility, circulation and visibility, but also a myriad of contextual information and archival impulses? How might one’s approach change if we see the holdings as not only containers of historical information, but also instantiations of their times? This paper offers a case study of an Asia Art Archive project, which is working towards building a network of archives in Hong Kong. It also shares an AAA researcher’s perspective on how a constellation of research methodologies are applied to activate and navigate the archives, and how some of those lead to more archive building in the process. This paper examines the navigation, usage, and building of archives as a collaborative and rhizomic process that not only produces knowledge, but also accumulates materials.
Steffani Jemison is an artist based in Brooklyn, New York. Her videos, installations, and mixed media works have been exhibited nationally and internationally at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art, LAXART, the Studio Museum in Harlem, Laurel Gitlen, Team Gallery, and other venues. Recent performances and lectures include the Museum of Modern Art (NY), the Institute of Contemporary Art (Philadelphia) and the Menil Collection (Houston). Jemison has participated in artist residencies at Project Row Houses, the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. She is a 2013 recipient of a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Award and an Art Matters Foundation grant. She received a BA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Lisa Merrill's past and current work relies on archives of correspondence to uncover 19th century lesbian friendship and erotic circles. Her study of 19th-century lesbian actress and cultural icon Charlotte Cushman, When Romeo Was a Woman: Charlotte Cushman and Her Circle of Female Spectators (University of Michigan Press), based on 20,000 items in the Cushman archive of the Library of Congress, was awarded the Joe A. Callaway Prize for Best Book in Theatre. Although Cushman’s most passionate correspondence used pet names for her lovers and eschewed salutations, Merrill was able to identify Cushman’s respondents through the tone and voice she used with each. She is currently working on two new book projects that draw upon her ongoing archival research. She is editing Touching the Text: The Erotics of Archival Research, an anthology that stages a dialogue between those who are drawn to the pleasures of archival research and their various subjects. Performing Race and Reading Antebellum American Bodies examines unpublished diaries and correspondence of abolitionists and fugitive slaves in archives in Britain and Ireland, and finds letters of white abolitionists who condemning the public appearances of former enslaved Americans as too “theatrical.” The archive is thus the site of revelations of tensions between public and private representations of race. Merrill is Professor in the Department of Rhetoric at Hofstra University.
Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz is an archivist at the Lesbian Herstory Archives (LHA), a faculty librarian at the Graduate Center of the City University New York, and co-producer of Rivers of Honey a Cabaret highlighting the art of women of color. Her work at LHA and her contribution to the roundtable conversation will focus on working specifically with black lesbian representation in lesbian archival herstory. In 2010, for the CLAGS sponsored Lesbian Lives in the '70s Conference, she created the since nationally distributed and award-winning Zine, Black Lesbians in the '70s and Before : An At-Home Tour at the Lesbian Hersory Archives. Alongside the Zine as an archival tool, she will also draw upon her experience with researchers and women interested in their own archiving, including the Salsa Soul Sisters interview on Audre Lorde, the Audre Lorde/Adrienne Rich marathon reading, and events being planned on black lesbians. Prior to CUNY, Shawn worked as Archive Coordinator at StoryCorps, a digital oral history storytelling project. She holds a BS in Queer Women's Studies from CUNY, an MLS from Queens College, and is pursuing an MFA in Fiction at Queens College.
Ellen, Lisa, and Shawn(ta) will be joined by Rachel Corbman, Flavia Rando and Margaret Galvan for the roundtable.
In a short text titled "Whose History?" (1977), the British filmmaker Lis Rhodes sets out a compelling treatise broadly concerned with the way in which histories are remembered and who by. Discussing the way women have used the medium of film, Rhodes turns to personal reflection in order to account for the way in which history comes to define the present. Rhodes’ account serves to demonstrate how affectual readings of archives can allow us to account for the powerful feeling codes that can work to reinforce or conversely de-stabilize the dominant social, cultural or political structures that organize our sense of history. Film is here understood as a surface through which these affective encounters can occur. Taking "Whose History?" as a point of departure, this proposed presentation features films and videos by a number of feminist artists that all deal with questions surrounding the construction of personal or public archives and histories.
In Lisa Steele’s 'Birthday Suit with Scars and Defects' (1974, b/w, 11 min) the artist narrates stories of the scars on her body as the camera scans across her skin. Word and image work to produce an intimate archive of her young self as her body carries its history into future; In 'Framing the Family' (1984, b/w, 15 min) the artist Jo Spence reflects on the family album in order to challenge the illusionary promise of photographic representation to organize coherent narratives of our lives and ourselves; Leah Gilliam’s 'Now Pretend' (1991, b/w, 10 min) registers constructs of race and nationality as arbitrary signifiers as she deploys an archive of images set to a soundtrack that reflects on memory in relation to language; Vivienne Dick’s 'Visibility: Moderate' (1981, color, 15 min excerpt) employs parody in order to address the problematic mythologizing of national past and the feeling codes that organize our cultural identifications; and in Ronna Bloom’s 'I Feel Hopeful About the Future' (1986, b/w, 11 min) categories of identity are likewise troubled as they are literally constituted and reconstituted through the stories that women tell of ourselves.
Registering the affect that human and non-human agents have on our histories or else framing a series of affectual responses in relation to archives, each of these works produces an excess of meaning that threatens to the flood the fixity of historical signification. In doing so they suggest the radical potential of affect as a methodological approach for the production of feminist histories.
Laura Guy is a PhD candidate in Manchester School of Art. Her thesis focuses on rehearsals of the manifesto form in contemporary art. As a curator she has worked on a number of programs and exhibitions with a number of public institutions including TATE and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (both 2014).
Charlotte Procter is based in London and works professionally with a number of collections including the British Artists Film & Video Study Collection, the Archives & Special Collections Centre and the Stanley Kubrick Archive (all University of the Arts, London). She is a member of the Cinenova Working Group.
Many of the films included in this screening are in the collection of Cinenova, a volunteer-run organization based in London dedicated to preserving and distributing the work of women/feminist film and video makers.
Chitra Ganesh + Mariam Ghani have collaborated since 2004 on the project Index of the Disappeared, which is both a physical archive of post-9/11 disappearances and a mobile platform for public dialogue. As an archive, the Index traces the difficult histories of immigrant, other and dissenting communities in the US since 9/11, and the ways in which censorship of speech and data blackouts create real absences in real lives, by collecting and connecting documents and testimony. As a platform, the Index presents discussions on ideas and issues related to the materials it archives (and some on archiving itself, like this conference), and stages interventions that translate those materials into visual elements installed in a range of physical and virtual spaces - including galleries, museums, universities, community centers, libraries, conferences, magazines, books, windows, the street, the web and the mail. Recent Index projects include a web project commissioned by Creative Time Reports; a print project for the 30th anniversary issue of the Radical History Review; a parasitic library-within-a-library in the downtown Buffalo public library; a site-specific installation of Index documents related to military codes of conduct at the Park Avenue Armory for the exhibition Democracy in America; and a multilingual window installation at Exit Art with texts drawn from the archive in large-scale neon and vinyl. Ganesh and Ghani are the 2013-14 artists in residence at the Asian/Pacific/American institute at NYU. As part of their residency, Index of the Disappeared is currently presenting the window installation Watch This Space at the Kimmel Center (Washington Square South and LaGuardia Place) and the library installation Parasitic Archive at the Kevorkian Center (Washington Square South and Sullivan Street). Details, documentation and updates on the Index can be found at kabul-reconstructions.net/disappeared.
Mona Jimenez started transferring obsolete videotapes in the late 1980s and has been an advocate and organizer for the preservation of independent media ever since. She is Associate Arts Professor/Associate Director in NYU’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program, where she teaches collection management and the preservation of video and digital works. Since 2009 she has been experimenting with participatory models of media/film archiving locally and through Community Archiving Workshops organized by the Independent Media Committee of the Association of Moving Image Archivists. She is the founder of Audiovisual Preservation Exchange (APEX), a project to network audiovisual archivists, educators and students internationally through shared work on collections. She is co-editor with Sherry Miller Hocking and Kathy High of The Emergence of Video Processing Tools: Television Becoming Unglued.