New Criticals

Another model for FemTechNet that offers more control of the material might be “The Performing Archive” begun in 2006 by artist Suzanne Lacy and her long-time collaborator, Leslie Labowitz. This archive includes the documentation of their performance work from 1971 to 1984. Lacy and Labowitz created “The Performing Archive” as an ongoing installation, performance, and video project in which younger women were video-recorded responding to materials they selected from over 50 boxes of archives. So, likewise, FemTechNet could stage periodic engagements with the archive, either as a part of courses, or as one-off events. Lacy described their project: “Thus the work framed the acts of inquiry, mythologizing, and interpretation that represent the transmission of feminist art history, through the observations of young women born during the decade in which some of the major works on violence against women by Lacy and Labowitz were presented.”

Perspectives on Women’s Archives, edited by Tanya Zanish-Belcher with Anke Voss, is a volume chock-full of essays that provides historical perspectives to archival work. It is easy to forget in the midst of creating materials that we too will have a place in history; our stuff, our interactions, may be transformative, but only if they are somehow passed along. In that volume, Danelle Moon noted the complexity of ”feminist activism across time, [which] is messy and is not bound by chronological ideology.” Zanish-Belcher and Voss support activist archivists “to recognize that history is about all sexes, races and classes and that archives should reflect that.” Aligned with that commitment, a 2002 exhibition catalog quoted Bart De Baere: “So archive work is not a peripheral phenomenon, storage for data that have become as good as useless, for ballast that may possibly be reused. It is potentially a core task for society, or at least a core instrument and powerful image of it.”