Welcome to Archive/Counterarchive

New Mail Art Project: The images, such as they are, do have an effect on us*

Representative Image

The images, such as they are, do have an effect on us*

A mail art project that draws on VIVO Media Arts Centre archives to enliven Vancouver’s histories of porn, feminism, and censorship.

By Hazel Meyer and Cait McKinney.

Design and Research Assistance by Erin F. Chan.

Conceived in dialog with Karen Knights and the Archive / Counter-Archive Gendered Violence: Responses and Remediations Case Study.

In the 1980s, many feminists opposed to porn drew on the language of gender violence to make their case, arguing that all sexually explicit images of women were harmful. Working against this position and the creep of censorship into smaller moving image formats in the province, queer and feminist artists defended sexual expression and created alternative visual languages for sex. Each side organized conferences and screenings, wrote position papers, protested, and kept making their work through it all.

Playing with questions of polarization and memory, the artists have created two dossiers: one represents the working files of an anti-porn feminist; the other of an artist/organizer involved in anti-censorship work. Some of the records are real, others they imagined based on scraps, remnants, and gossip.

Get a mailing

Register to receive a mailing using this form. The first 100 registrants will be mailed a dossier in July 2022, and subsequent registrants will receive a digital edition by email.

Click here to see the digital versions of the two dossiers for this project.

Content warning: The mailings include archival records related to porn, kink, and gender violence and you are agreeing to receive this material in the mail.

*quote from Himani Bannerji’s address at The Heat is On! Women on ART on SEX conference held at Women in Focus, Vancouver, 1985.

Image: Brochure from Visual Evidence screening and workshop series (1987) and photograph of Elaine Miller, Vanessa Kwan, and Prune (2022).