Three Questions for Curator E.G. Crichton:
Creating a Welcome for Migrating Archives
A new exhibition opening on February 1 at The GLBT History Museum draws on innovative curatorial work combining art and history to offer a glimpse into both the stories of archival organizations and the ways they document queer lives. Conceived by E.G. Crichton, the museum's artist-in-residence, "Migrating Archives: LGBT Delegates From Collections Around the World" features materials from Australia, Belgium, England, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Scotland, South Africa and the United States. Crichton is a professor of art at the University of California, Santa Cruz, whose work has been widely exhibited. She recently responded to questions from History Happens.
|The "Migrating Archives" exhibition will feature materials from nine countries, |
including Belgium (left), South Africa (upper right) and Italy (lower right).
As an artist, what curatorial vision did you bring to the exhibition?
For years now, no matter what subject I've explored as an artist, I can't resist bringing historical research into the mix. Working intensely with the archives at the GLBT Historical Society made me curious about other archives with queer materials. When ILHIA, the GLBT history organization in Amsterdam, decided to hold a conference last summer, I knew I had to go -- and that I wanted to imagine a project that would foster relationships between collections around the world. This became the first version of "Migrating Archives," an exhibition at the beautiful central library in Amsterdam. The way that people embraced crossing borders to display the history of GLBT lives and archives made me realize I wanted to bring some of the stories back to San Francisco. I consider the archives in the current exhibition to be honored guests of The GLBT History Museum.
What do you mean when you describe collections as "migrating archives"?
Most of the time, archives sit on shelves, waiting for the occasional researcher. But as an artist, I've found myself wanting to set them in motion. This has sometimes meant matching a collection to an artist and asking the artist to invent a response. The responses form new kinds of archives that reside in exhibitions and presentations -- and in suitcases that I've taken to other countries. I started to think of these as archives that wander. For this show, I wanted to reverse the direction of travel by inviting organizations to send "delegates" -- individual archives that represent their larger holdings in some way. The participants have been surprisingly trusting and generous: They've sent digital files, CDs, texts, and even created videos for this show. The archives have traveled from nine different countries in the forms that stories can migrate in the digital age.
What can we learn from the life stories highlighted in the show?
As diverse as the archives and organizations are, I'm struck by how familiar the stories seem. Some represent famous or infamous people from over a century ago: Oscar Wilde's petition to the court from 1896 or a document from 1891 noting that an individual convicted of sodomy "committed suicide by taking poison in the prison cell passage immediately after sentencing." Others seem more like us, now: Monte Punshon, who came out at the age of 103 in Australia; Beverly Ditsie, an activist lesbian in South Africa; Sándor/Sarolta Vay who lived as a man in Hungary; Stefano Casagrande, who died of AIDS in Italy. Their lives are fascinating in their own right, and they take us outside our local world to make imaginative connections with queer communities in other times and places.
New Multimedia Exhibit Links Bay Area
African American Lives Past and Present
A new multimedia exhibit in the Corner Gallery at The GLBT History Museum will showcase the dynamic and diverse history of Bay Area African American gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender lives from the 1970s through today. "Legendary: African American GLBT Past Meets Present" features a mosaic of words, images and sounds that connect inspirational commentary by local queer community leaders with historic artifacts reflecting themes of art, belonging, justice and sexuality.
"Bay Area African American GLBT people have made powerful contributions to culture, community, activism and the erotic, yet there sometimes exists a disconnect with this rich history and how it undoubtedly influences the world we live in today," notes curator Byron Mason, an activist, artist and social sciences researcher. "We have been renegades, leaders, brothers and sisters who have for decades stood up for the beauty, importance and power of our own lives."
"Legendary" opens with a public reception on Wednesday, February 20, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. The exhibition runs through April 2013.
Winter Museum Events: Exhibition Openings,
Film and Walking Tour of Queer Historic Sites
Migrating Archives: LGBT Delegates
From Collections Around the World
Friday, February 1
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Graphic panels and videos bring together evocative materials from archives in nearly a dozen countries, with each organization providing photographs of artifacts that portray the experiences of one or two queer individuals from the past. Admission: $5.00 (free for members).
A multimedia exhibit on Bay Area African American GLBT lives from the last four decades, featuring rare photos, film and artifacts. Video interviews with local queer leaders highlight the connections between past and present. Admission: $5.00 (free for members).
Legendary: African American GLBT Past and Present
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Submerged Queer Spaces
Friday, February 22
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Submerged Queer Spaces offers viewers a poignant look at San Francisco's lost queer cityscapes: bars, restaurants, parks, bathhouses and other GLBT gathering spots that have been repurposed, rebuilt or destroyed since the mid-20th century. Admission: $5.00 (free for members).
Uncovering the Submerged Queer Spaces of the Castro
Saturday, February 23
Noon - 2:00 p.m.
Jack Curtis Dubowsky, director of Submerged Queer Spaces, takes queer archaeology to the streets with a walking tour of the Castro. Participants will discover the traces of lost GLBT history in a rapidly changing neighborhood. Meet at The GLBT History Museum at noon. Tickets: $5.00 (free for members).
EXHIBITIONS & PROGRAMS
The GLBT History Museum
Location: 4127 18th St., San Francisco, CA 94114
Admission: $5.00 general; $3.00 with California student ID. Free for members. Free for all visitors on the first Wednesday of each month (courtesy of the Bob Ross Foundation).
Mondays & Wednesdays - Saturdays: 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Sundays: Noon - 5:00 p.m.
ARCHIVES & READING ROOM
GLBT Historical Society
Location: 657 Mission St., Suite 300, San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone: 415-777-5455, ext. 3#
Research Hours (by appointment)
Members: Wednesdays - Fridays: 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Nonmembers: Fridays: 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
First & Third Saturdays: 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
6 - 8 p.m.
7 - 9 p.m.
7 - 9 p.m.
Noon - 2 p.m.
Castro Historic Sites
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Donors Meet Goals
For Matching Grants
Thanks to an exceptional response from donors,
the GLBT Historical
Society has qualified for a $17,000 challenge grant from the City of San Francisco and a $13,000 matching grant from a group of community leaders. "We're deeply grateful for this vital support for our ongoing work in queer public history," said Executive Director Paul Boneberg.
The GLBT History
Museum displays a
wealth of material
from San Francisco's
vast queer past.
The "Finding Our Hidden Histories" display in "Our
Vast Queer Past" traces
the groundbreaking efforts of Bay Area researchers
who worked starting in
the 1970s to uncover the history of GLBT people
and to share their discoveries with other scholars and the public.
The GLBT Historical Society is home to one
of the world's largest
gay, lesbian, bisexual
Several manuscript collections and the Ephemera Collection include documentation on Finocchio's, a female-impersonation revue in
San Francisco that put on
shows seven nights a
week from 1936 until it closed in 1999. Shown here: a souvenir program from the 1940s with a
cover illustration by Li-Kar.
information on the
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and The GLBT History Museum, visit
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read our archives blog:
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GLBT Historical Society