Women and the Archive

Women and the Archive: A Partial Disclosure
Saturday 14 March 2009
Curated by Anna Colin

The Women’s Library, London

The Otolith Group, Marysia Lewandowska, Cinenova, the Remembering Olive Collective

Produced by Whitechapel Gallery in partnership with The Women’s Library.


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Resources and Documentation
· For documentation of specific contributions to Women and The Archive: A Partial Disclosure, please click the links in the sidebar.

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Women and the Archive: A Partial Disclosure presented four perspectives on the relationship between women and the archive in contemporary artistic production. Artists, collectives and researchers using archives as source material or constituting archives as their primary activity were invited to present their rarely shown collections of photographs, videos and audio recordings around women of artistic, social and political importance. Issues of provenance, methodology, property and historicisation were addressed throughout the afternoon via presentations, screenings, performances and a panel discussion.

This event was devised as part of The Street, a year-long series of artists’ commissions by the Whitechapel Gallery on and around Wentworth Street. Women and the Archive: A Partial Disclosure was organised in partnership with The Women’s Library.

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13:00 · Introductions by Sarah Smillie, Curator: Community Programmes, Whitechapel Gallery; Gail Cameron, Curator of Special Collections, The Women’s Library; and Anna Colin, the event’s curator.

13:30 · The Otolith Group presented Communists Like Us, 2006-present.

14:15 · I Don’t See A History That Goes Back From Before I Came In. Melissa Castagnetto and Marina Vishmidt staged a discussion about Cinenova’s present and future activity.

15:00 · Recording. Conversation in Progress. Marysia Lewandowska selected and presented material from the Women’s Audio Archive.

15:45 · Break

16:15 · Ana Laura Lopez de la Torre and Kimberly Springer in conversation about the project Do You Remember Olive Morris?

17:00 · Panel discussion with the participants, curator and host, chaired by independent curator Mia Jankowicz.

18:00 · End

Throughout the day · Selected material from the Cinenova archive available for viewing in the Reading Lounge.

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The Otolith Group creates art works, curates exhibitions, programmes events and designs platforms for discussion of contemporary artistic practice. In Communists Like Us, 2006-present, a slide presentation delivered by the Group’s members, Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun, spins a rich historical web prompted by Sagar’s grandmother’s voyage to Mao’s China. Photographs of the journey are transposed with subtitles from Godard’s 1967 film La Chinoise, a transcultural exchange that intertwines the postcolonial and the postmodern.

Cinenova is a non-profit organisation dedicated to distributing films and videos made by women. Formed in 1991 from the merger of two feminist distributors, Circles and Cinema of Women, Cinenova provides the means to discover and watch experimental films, narrative feature films, artists film and video, documentary and educational videos. Melissa Castagnetto and Marina Vishmidt, two writers and artists who have been involved with Cinenova in different capacities over the years, will pick up on some ongoing trajectories about histories, time, feminist politics, artist-led archives and collective practices inscribed through these. Dispersal and rupture as characteristics of an archive and as methods to organise will be considered. These points of reference lead into an upcoming Cinenova project, and set the stage for discussion.

Marysia Lewandowska is a Polish born, London based artist who has collaborated with Neil Cummings between 1995–2008, with whom she co-authored many projects. See: www.chanceprojects.com Since 2003 she has been a professor at Konstfack in Stockholm, and part of a team responsible for Art in the Public Realm, a new MA programme. The Women’s Audio Archive was established in 1985 by Marysia Lewandowska when the artist moved from Warsaw to live and work in London. The project consists of taped conversations with women involved in different spheres of cultural production as well as recordings of many public lectures and conferences between 1983-1990 taking place in England, USA and Canada. In the autumn of this year the project will become available online during the artist’s residency at the Centre for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, USA.

Initiated and led by artist Ana Laura Lopez de la Torre in collaboration with community activist Liz Obi, Do you remember Olive Morris? is a project that takes as a starting point the historical – yet undocumented – figure of community activist Olive Morris (1952-1979). Olive Morris was part of the UK Black Panther Movement, she set up the Brixton Black Women’s Group, was a founding member of The Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent and was central to the squatters’ campaign of that decade. Do you remember Olive Morris? comprises extensive archival and oral history research, a blog, a radio series, an exhibition and a publication. The research, activities and outputs of this project are created collaboratively by the artist and the Remembering Olive Collective (ROC). For Women and The Archive: A Partial Disclosure, Ana Laura Lopez de la Torre was in conversation with Kimberly Springer, Senior Lecturer in American Studies at King’s College, author of Living for the Revolution: Black Feminist Organizations, 1968-1980 (2005) and a member of ROC. See: http://rememberolivemorris.wordpress.com/