These two pieces were part of Archivi Migranti / surrogates from elsewhere, an exhibit that opened at the Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna last November. I was invited by the Italian LGBT organization and archive Il Cassero to bring my Migrating Archives project as part of their yearly Gender Bender Festival.
Migrating Archives creates connections between organizations around the world that collect and preserve LGBT historical materials. Starting in 2012, I invited a range of organizations to send me information about two of their archives representing individuals who have died. Using images, text and video messages from the archivists, my re-creations of these selected archives offer a glimpse into the collecting culture of each organization. In the form of a traveling exhibition, the archives of the dead are reinvented to travel across borders as delegates from their home institutions. Migrating Archives builds a lineage between grassroots efforts in Paris, LGBT collections at the British National Archive, a lesbian-owned restaurant and history museum in Manila, GALA in Johannesburg, Labrisz in Budapest, ALGA in Melbourne and Il Cassero in Bologna, among others.
For the Archivi Migranti / surrogates from elsewhere version of Migrating Archives, I reconnected with each archivist to determine what might serve as a metaphorical gift from their organization to our host, Il Cassero. After Azu Udogu’s Body Map is the gift I fabricated from GALA (Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action) in Johannesburg, South Africa, a wonderful activist archive organization that was founded in 1997. Azu Udogu was a transgender Nigerian immigrant to South Africa who fled oppressive conditions for a more progressive culture. In South Africa, she was finally able to live as a woman. At some point, before dying at a very young age, Azu created a large paper “body map” in a workshop. In my transparent interpretation, I have remapped her autobiographical narrative onto the outlines of her body.
There are Matters which are Difficult to Tell (conversations in the archive) is based on the actual words of archived individuals in the various archive collections. Using online voice actors from around the world, as well as local friends, I imagined the people I was “meeting” from different countries, cultures and time periods actually talking to each other.
E.G. Crichton is an interdisciplinary artist and teacher who lives in San Francisco. Her work uses a range of art strategies and media to explore social issues, historical archives and site-specific subject matter. She often collaborates within community settings and across disciplines with other visual artists, performers, writers, scientists, composers, and archivists. Her work has been exhibited in art institutions and as public installations in Europe, Asia, Australia and across the US. She has also received grant and fellowship awards from the Creative Work Fund, Southern Exposure, the Ragdale Foundation, the KunsthØgskolen in Norway, Anderson Ranch Art Center and the San Francisco Arts Commission, to name a few.
E.G. is an active member of the GLBT Historical Society, whose amazing archives inspired her participatory projects LINEAGE: Matchmaking in the Archive and Migrating Archives.