Archives From Below
Duration: 01:18:51; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 81.610; Saturation: 0.057; Lightness: 0.360; Volume: 0.178; Cuts per Minute: 0.013
Summary: Interference Archive (IA) is a grassroots archive and social center
in Brooklyn, NY which explores the relationship between cultural
production and social movements. IA's collection consists of zines,
pamphlets, fliers, posters, buttons, banners, audiovisual recordings and
other ephemera came out of a personal collection, and has since
expanded through donations from participants in global social movements.
Through our exhibitions and programming, we offer creative ways of
interacting with these materials, animating the histories of people
mobilizing for social transformation. We consider our activities as a
way to preserve and honor the historical narratives and material
culture, which is often marginalized in the dominant paradigm.
IA was inspired in part by other grassroots archives— like the
Lesbian Herstory Archive in Brooklyn— which were built as consciously
political spaces to celebrate and make visible radical identities and
social histories. For the past two years, we have been re-envisioning
how an archive can function as a community-oriented, autonomous space,
by encouraging critical and creative engagement with both historical and
contemporary struggles. Such programming and exhibitions have focused
on the global anti- nuclear movement post-WWII to post-Fukushima;
student movements in Mexico City, Quebec, and NYC; the history of the
Asian American movement in NYC, and a celebration of labor strikes.
We consider IA to be an “archive from below”, which exists outside of
traditional institutions and intentionally disrupts hierarchical power
dynamics through the content of the collection, organizational
structure, and archival practices. To this end, we are a
collectively-run and volunteer-operated project, maintain a publicly
accessible collection and study center, collaborate with like-minded
projects, and work to build solidarity and relationships with activists
on the ground.
This roundtable discussion between Interference collective members
and collaborators will examine how grassroots archives aim to disrupt
notions of power in terms of opening up control over the telling of
"official" historical narratives; force us to rethink the archival
profession's assumptions about best practices for making information
accessible; provide access to materials for people who had a hand in
creating them; challenge concepts of ownership over historical cultural
materials with a concept of custodianship; form organizational and
information systems based on collective cultural knowledge; create space
to build community and supportive networks; and offer prefigurative and
creative ways of interacting and presenting history and contemporary
movements, while instigating the creation of new cultural production for
current social movements. We will also discuss some of the specific
theoretical and practical challenges IA has encountered, and how we have
worked through them.
Molly Fair introducing Archives From Below panel
Blithe Riley is an artist, activist and organizer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her multi-disciplinary practice explores the role of work in daily life, including its influence on identity, politics, and building social movements. Blithe began volunteering at the IA in 2012 and works primarily on the programming and outreach aspects ofthe archive. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Labor Studies at the Murphy Institute at the City University of New York.
Ryan Lee Wong organized the exhibition Serve the People: The Asian American Movement in New York at Interference Archive in Brooklyn. He was previously Assistant Curator at Museum of Chinese in America, where he organized the exhibition June 4, 1989, and assisted on numerous exhibitions. He has contributed writing to Hyperallergic, The Brooklyn Rail, and ArtSlant.
Jen Hoyer has worked as a librarian at public, school, and special libraries. Originally from Canada, she has been volunteering at IA since 2013, and is excited about problem-solving ways to make less-accessible formats of ephemera and grey literature more accessible. Jen believes in libraries and archives because of their potential for creating more inclusive communities through wider access to information.
Anika Paris is an archives student at Queens College's Graduate School of Library and Information Science. A volunteer at Interference Archive since February 2013, Anika has worked on the Strike Then, Strike Now! show, and works on exhibits and programming related to police and prisons. Anika is also a longtime member of Books Through Bars NYC, volunteers with the Picture the Homeless Liberation Library, and practices some divisive strains of black feminism in her free time.
Molly Fair on Preservation in the Context of a Radical Community Archive
Jenn Hoyer with words from donors to the collection
Bonnie Gordon is a Master's candidate in New York University’s Archives and Public History program and a Student Archives Assistant the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. She has volunteered with IA since the spring of 2013 and has helped develop a digital preservation plan as a member of their Born Digital and Digitization Working Group. Bonnie is interested in digital preservation, community archiving, access to archives, and how all three areas intersect.