Active Archive – Slow Institution 2017-2020 was a long-term research project initiated by Curator of Visual Arts Lívia Páldi. Delving into Project Arts Centre’s 50+year history, it looked at what future proposals for transformation are inscribed within the manifold history of one of the oldest multipurpose art centres in Ireland. Active Archive temporarily transformed the gallery into a space for productive withdrawal, a slow-down from its serial exhibition production, becoming a work and meeting space. Documents relating to the Centre’s archives and privately collected materials were studied and shared, workshops and talks organised, provoking new conversations and connections to emerge.
Organised into a series of interconnected exhibitions/displays and events, the first presentation of Active Archive – Slow Institution was framed by the exhibition The Long Goodbye (2019). This installation of documents, moving image, sound, and photographic works included new commissions by artists who revisited their own archives with a particular focus on the late 1990s, a period seminal in the Centre’s history.
The Long Goodbye also signalled the launch of ‘Public Viewing’, a conversation series in which the wider public were invited for a close reading/viewing session of documents and archives introduced by artists.
The second chapter of the research was introduced in March 2020 via the displayQUEER-IN-PROGRESS. TIMELINE, mapping LGBTQ histories and, more specifically, lesbian, female-identified, transgender, and feminist activism and practices.
With a special focus on the 1980s, 1990s, and the HIV campaigns, QUEER-IN-PROGRESS. TIMELINE began with an exploration of Project’s LGBTQ theatre history. This ongoing body of research was collated by artist Hannah Tiernan (MFA, NCAD), and was presented alongside her current investigation into the GCN (Gay Community News), IQA (The Irish Queer Archive/National Library of Ireland) and the Out Magazine archives.
The impulse to share parts of this research online resulted in a page dedicated to sharing documents that support a cross-reading of political, social, and gender histories through lesbian, female-identified, transgender, and feminist activism and practices. The entries refer variously to zines, newspaper clips, objects, memorabilia, moving image, and photographic documents and/or artworks.
QUEER-IN-PROGRESS. TIMELINE put forward the importance of temporal, open, and inclusive archives that accommodate changing needs, and that foster a dialogue about queer archiving within institutional practices. It highlighted events that point to social, political, economic, and medical complexities, but also to the absences and silences that result from censorship, limitations to document preservation, and the lack of space for sexual and gender difference.
Exploring narrative(s) of emerging and changing experience that might manifest through personalised collections of records and community-based archives, the project looks into questions of historicising and memorialising. It explores how queering archival practices can help us transform conventional approaches to archiving, critically engaging with many of the issues present including misogyny, homo/transphobia, HIV, racism, and the various forms of discrimination and marginalisation.
The timeline is identified as a tool for pooling, revisiting, and bringing into conversation various points of view, with individuals, groups and communities unpacking the less visible and often suppressed, overlooked, or neglected aspects of complex historical events, challenging often simplified media representation.
The selection was begun by Lívia Páldi and Hannah Tiernan, and will be taken over by Tiernan who will become the custodian of the project from March 2021.
All the materials shared on the timeline are carefully considered and published with the consent of the donor/author and/or with the permission of the relevant institution.
QUEER-IN-PROGRESS. TIMELINE was launched as a collective participatory project with artists, researchers, activists, and the wider public. Our focus has been on the 1980s and 1990s but we welcome suggestions and items from preceding and subsequent years.
Please don’t hesitate to contact Hannah Tiernan if you were interested in participating and had further questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Special thanks to GCN for supporting Hannah Tiernan’s archival research and the publishing of materials.
Lívia Páldi is the Curator of Visual Arts at Project Arts Centre, Dublin. She worked as director of BAC – Baltic Art Center, Visby, Sweden between 2012 and 2015 and chief curator of the Műcsarnok / Kunsthalle Budapest between 2007 and 2011. She has organised talks, discussions, workshops and numerous exhibitions and has also edited several books and exhibition catalogues. She was one of the curatorial agents of dOCUMENTA (13) and member of the OFF-Biennale Budapest curatorial board in 2016.
Hannah Tiernan is a visual artist, researcher and writer based in Dublin, Ireland. Her academic and archival research focuses on contemporary Irish LGBT history. Along with academic writing, her poetry and visual art, explores themes of sexuality and gender identity. Her most recent activities include:
Project Arts Centre is proud to be supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and Dublin City Council.