Survey by Qualaroo

Always Expanding and Never Closed: Archiving subculture

Saturday 27 August 2016, 14:00 to 17:00

Open discussion on archiving social movements

Why do we archive?

How do we (or should we) preserve a subculture or underground activity? How can we address questions and issues around the co-optation of materials from marginal or radical activity into institutional structures?

Join us for an open conversation exploring strategies for presenting and caring for knowledge and materials from social movements and subculture.

Have you ever wondered why some underground cultures or actions of resistance are preserved whilst others fade into obscurity? From encounters with re-photocopied zines passed on by friends-of-friends through informal networks, to the same materials entering archives held by academic or civic institutions decades later; we will explore what it means for the conditions in which we encounter these objects to drastically change.

What does it mean for radical or ‘minor’ object to enter the archive? Can they still disrupt, resist and refuse intelligibility once inside?

Come along and discuss, debate and find out more.

Guest speakers include:

Mimi Thi Nguyen is Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Nguyen has made zines since 1991, including Slander (formerly known by other titles) and the compilation Race Riot. In June 2013, Sarah McCarry's Guillotine ("a series of erratically published chapbooks focused on revolutionary non-fiction") released PUNK, a conversation between Nguyen and Golnar Nikpour that refuses a stable definition of punk and explores the politics and historiography of subculture – it was a key informing influence on our Moving Targets programme.

Mimi Thi Nguyen at the Radar Reading Series (2014, San Francisco Public Library) on the co-option of minor objects into academic or institutional structures.

D-M Withers is a writer, researcher, publisher and trustee of the Feminist Archive South, which is currently held on deposit at the University of Bristol Library Special Collections. Their research explores the politics of transmission within feminism with specific focus on how technical processes shape engagement with feminism’s archives. Their book Feminism, Digital Culture and the Politics of Transmission: Theory, Practice and Cultural Heritage, was published in 2015. For this event, they will present new work on the idea of the 'metadata diary'.


Mark Small is from OutStories  a volunteer-run organisation that charts Bristol’s local LGBT+ history. In collaboration with the University of Bristol and Bristol City Council, OutStories recently launched an interactive online map that allows users to find out, share and contribute to information about sites across the city significant to LGBT+ history.

Artist-researcher Beth Emily Richards will lead 'Wasting Time on the Internet (After Kenneth Goldsmith)', a digital dérive into online fanworks and fan culture. Using the Organisation for Transformative Works as a starting point, we’ll uncover the politics of fan labour, the sites and styles of interest-based communities, and archival methodologies for fanfiction. Richards is an artist living and working in Plymouth, who embraces historical inaccuracy to disrupt expectations and hegemonies in a playful way. 

The Handcuff King from Beth Richards on VimeoThe Handcuff King takes its starting point from a performance made by Harry Houdini in Plymouth’s Palace Theatre in 1909. Houdini challenged local shipwright joiners to make an inescapable box. Houdini then escaped from it in twelve minutes. The artist worked with locksmiths and contemporary shipwrights to create an ‘inexact re-enactment’ of Houdini’s show.



Join in the conversation using #bristolpunk. 

Events and Exhibitions
March 2017
All events Archive
Wednesday 29 March 2017

Archive Display 11am-6pm

Shop 11am-6pm

Cafe 10am-8pm

Reading Room 11am-6pm

This event is part of Moving Targets
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