Migrating Archives creates connections between diverse organizations around the world that collect and preserve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender historical materials. Each Migrating Archives project offers a different glimpse into what these organizations do. And for each project, the archives of the dead are reinvented to travel across borders as delegates from their home and culture.
As an artist, I create situations in which archives can morph into multiple forms, migrate through social exchanges, and be returned to their shelves intact. There is movement, a flux, as archives are fleshed out, visualized and enacted by passionate intention. These normally stable historical artifacts morph with a slippage art can engender, all made possible through generous collaboration with the archivists, organizers and volunteers who keep these archive collections alive.
Migrating Archives builds a lineage between grassroots efforts in Paris, LGBT collections at the British National Archive, a lesbian-owned restaurant/history museum in Manila, GALA in Johannesburg, Labrisz in Budapest, ALGA in Melbourne, and many others, including the lonely archive I created as tribute to Ugandan gay martyr David Kato. My idea is to put the archives that are precious to each institution into motion as they become guests and hosts, sometimes crossing national borders more easily than we can.
From San Francisco to Australia to Portugal 2010
The idea of Migrating Archives began when I presented LINEAGE: Matchmaking in the Archive at a conference in Brisbane, Australia. There, I met Karen Charman, a writer, academic and activist from Melbourne. She heard me speak about the Lineage project; I heard her speak about the “Narratives Across Cultures” project at the Immigration Museum in Melbourne. The idea of framing queer lineage through the archives of individual lives dovetailed with her writing on biography and personal narrative. And her work in the Immigration Museum made me think about who wanders where and how, and under what circumstances.Out of this came an exchange that has lead to both matchmaking and immigration. I matched Karen to a 450-page unpublished memoir called “Wife of a Lesbian” by Ruth Reid, about her 28-year relationship to Kent Hyde. In a long-distance collaboration, Karen and I wrote about our different psychic and emotional connections to Ruth and Kent, weaving a textual and visual performance that we enacted at a conference called Landscapes of the Self at the Universidade de Évora in Portugal. There - in a coincidence that seemed posthumously generous to our couple - gay marriage had just been legalized.
(THE WANDERING ARCHIVE: Ruth Reid and Kent Hyde, a Memoir - 2013)