Welcome to Archive/Counterarchive

Publications: books and special issues

Members of the Archive/Counter-Archive network spans across Canada and multiple disciplines. Learn more about our research below!

Books and Special Issues on Archive/Counter-Archive

Marchessault, Janine, May Chew, Susan Lord, eds. “Archive/Counter-Archives.” Special Issue, PUBLIC: Art/Culture/Ideas 57 (Sept. 24, 2018).

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This special issue of Public on ARCHIVE/COUNTER-ARCHIVES advances conversations regarding the changing nature and political realities of audio and visual heritage in the twenty-first century. Bringing together artists, archivists, and researchers, this issue of PUBLIC argues that the re-thinking of audio-visual heritage preservation is ultimately strategic and political, especially given the precarious material conditions of archives in the digital era, and the fact that colonial and racialized forms of structural control over the history of place and belonging continue to embargo access to the past for many communities. This issue thus turns towards the transformative potential of counter-archives, which can be political, ingenious, resistant, and community-based. PUBLIC 57 also brings to the fore the work of women and Indigenous, racialized, diasporic, and LGBT2Q+ communities to create counter-archives that expand, interrogate, and disrupt conventional archives and archival methodologies.

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Earnest, Jarrett, ed. “DEVOTION – Today’s Future Becomes Tomorrow’s Archive.” Special Issue, PUBLIC: Art/Culture/Ideas 65 (20222).

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Guest edited by JARRETT EARNEST, PUBLIC 65: DEVOTION – Today’s Future Becomes Tomorrow’s Archive contains essays, interviews, reflections, oral histories, reproductions of notes, diagrams, works of art, photographs, and rare ephemera representing excluded and omitted LGBTQ2S+ archival material. Queer people have had to create and maintain archives as alternate repositories due to systematic exclusion from traditional archival practices and institutions. Propelled by the editor’s meticulous practice of collecting, explorations of experimental living practices, and embodied materiality—this issue of PUBLIC is a beautifully designed, radical collection of overlooked and forgotten IBPOC and LGBTQ2S+ archives.

PUBLIC 65: DEVOTION – Today’s Future Becomes Tomorrow’s Archive is 335 pages in length, designed by Hahn Studio, full-colour, with cover artwork by STEPHEN ANDREWS.

This issue of PUBLIC features several A/CA contributors. 

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Books written/edited by A/CA members

Burke, Andrew. Hinterland Remixed: Memory, Nostalgia, and the Canadian 1970s. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019.

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Like the flute melody from Hinterland Who's Who, the 1970s haunt Canadian cultural memory. Though the decade often feels lost to history, Hinterland Remixed focuses on boldly innovative works as well as popular film, television, and music to show that Canada never fully left the 1970s behind.

Andrew Burke reveals how contemporary artists and filmmakers have revisited the era's cinematic and televisual residues to uncover what has been lost over the years. Investigating how the traces of an analogue past circulate in a digital age, Burke digs through the remnants of 1970s Canadiana and examines key audiovisual works from this overlooked decade, uncovering the period's aspirations, desires, fears, and anxieties. He then looks to contemporary projects that remix, remediate, and reanimate the period. Exploring an idiosyncratic selection of works - from Michael Snow's experimental landscape film La Région Centrale, to SCTV's satirical skewering of network television, to L'Atelier national du Manitoba's video lament for the Winnipeg Jets - this book asks key questions about nation, nostalgia, media, and memory.

A timely intervention, Hinterland Remixed demands we recognize the ways in which the unrealized cultural ambitions and unresolved anxieties of a previous decade continue to resonate in our current lives.

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Damiens, Antoine. LGBTQ Film Festivals: Curating Queerness. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2020. 

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While scholars have theorized major film festivals, they have ignored smaller, ephemeral, events. In taking seriously minor European and North-American LGBTQ festivals which often only exist as traces within archival collections, this book revisits festival studies' methodological and theoretical apparatuses. As the first 'critique' of festival studies from within, LGBTQ Film Festivals argues that both festivals and queer film cultures are by definition ephemeral. The book is organized around two concepts: First, 'critical festival studies' examines the political project and disciplinary assumptions that structure festival research. Second, 'the festival as a method' pays attention to festivals' role as producers of knowledge: it argues that festivals are not mere objects of research but also actors already shaping academic, industrial, and popular cinematic knowledge. Drawing on the author's experience on the festival circuit, this book pays homage to the labour of queer organizers, critics, and scholars and opens up new avenues for festival research.

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Gagnon, Jean. Vidéocaméléon: Chroniques de l'art vidéo au Québec, de Vidéo Véhicule à PRIM vidéo, 1972-1992. Montreal: Somme Toute, 2021.

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Qu’aura été l’art vidéo ? Telle est la question qui sous-tend ce livre. Et au-delà de la réponse formelle ou définitive qu’on pourrait lui adresser, cette dernière signale qu’un bilan reste à faire et que « l’existence » de cet art demeure (aussi) une question. Jean Gagnon propose ici une chronique de l’art vidéo de 1972 à 1992, sans l’ambition de tout expliquer ni même d’être impartial. Fruit de recherches poussées, notamment à partir du fonds PRIM Vidéo, et d’une collaboration avec la Cinémathèque québécoise, Vidéocaméléon est le premier ouvrage québécois à s’intéresser d’aussi près à l’histoire de cet art.

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Gagnon, Monika K. and Lesley Johnstone, eds. In Search of Expo 67. Montreal: McGill Queen's University Press, 2020. 

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Though Expo 67 looms large in our collective memory, it is often remembered nostalgically as a remote historical event. The conditions that made Expo an exceptional cultural moment are often forgotten: remarkable creative freedom was granted to artists, architects, filmmakers, and designers to experiment with technology and new forms, resulting in an incredible diversity of cultural production. 

Originating with the Musée d'art contemporain's 2017 exhibition, In Search of Expo 67 brings together original work from nineteen artists and new critical essays to explore the connections between archives and memory. Organized thematically, artists' words and works are put into dialogue with archival imagery that reconstructs key aspects of the original event. Works by Marie-Claire Blais and Pascal Grandmaison as well as Cheryl Sim explore the physicality of the artificially constructed Expo islands while texts and images rethink and remember key locales such as the Canada and Indians of Canada Pavilions. Expo influenced ideas about Indigenous Canadians at home and abroad at the advent of a new political and cultural conceptualization of Indigeneity: Duane Linklater's art reimagines Norval Morrisseau's seminal Expo mural Earth Mother and Her Children, while Krista Belle Stewart reconstructs a single frame of a short NFB documentary about Indigenous life in vinyl over a "classic colonial grid" of sixteen window panes. Artworks employ contemporary digital media and tools to explore key elements and experiences of particular pavilions. Janine Marchessault provides a history of film at Expo and its archival difficulties. The book also documents six original multi-screen large-format films from Expo 67. Contemporary work in film by Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyen, Geronimo Inutiq, and Philip Hoffman and Eva Kolcze interrogates the official memory and narratives of Expo 67. The result is a critical rethinking and creative reimagining of Expo that shows how vital it remains over fifty years after it occurred, and the role of both research and creation in questioning and sustaining cultural memory. 

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Long, Paul and Beth Johnson, Shana MacDonald, Schem Rogerson Bader, Tim Wall, eds. Media Studies: Texts, Production, Context. New York, NY: Routledge, 2021.

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This thoroughly revised and updated third edition provides a comprehensive introduction to the various approaches to the field, explaining why media messages matter, how media businesses prosper and why media is integral to defining contemporary life.

The text is divided into three parts – Media texts and meanings; Producing media; and Media and social contexts –  exploring the ways in which various media forms make meaning; are produced and regulated; and how society, culture and history are defined by such forms. Encouraging students to actively engage in media research and analysis, each chapter seeks to guide readers through key questions and ideas in order to empower them to develop their own scholarship, expertise and investigations of the media worlds in which we live. Fully updated to reflect the contemporary media environment, the third edition includes new case studies covering topics such as Brexit, podcasts, Love IslandCaptain Marvel, Black Lives Matter, Netflix, data politics, the Kardashians, President Trump, ‘fake news’, the post-Covid world and perspectives on global media forms. 

This is an essential introduction for undergraduate and postgraduate students of media studies, cultural studies, communication studies, film studies, the sociology of the media and popular culture.

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Lord, Susan and María Caridad Cumaná, eds. The Cinema of Sara Gómez: Reframing Revolution. Indiana University Press, 2021.

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Throughout the 1960s until her untimely death in 1974, Afro-Cuban filmmaker Sara Gómez engaged directly and courageously with the social, political, economic, and cultural transformations promised by the Cuban Revolution. 

Gómez directed numerous documentary films in 10 prolific years. She also made De cierta manera (One way or another), her only feature-length film. Her films navigate complex experiences of social class, race, and gender by reframing revolutionary citizenship, cultural memory, and political value. Not only have her inventive strategies become foundational to new Cuban cinema and feminist film culture, but they also continue to inspire media artists today who deal with issues of identity and difference. The Cinema of Sara Gómez assembles history, criticism, biography, methodology, and theory of Gómez's work in scholarly writing; interviews with friends and collaborators; the film script of De cierta manera; and a detailed and complete filmography.

Featuring striking images, this anthology reorients how we tell Cuban cinema history and how we think about the intersections of race, gender, and revolution. By addressing Gómez's entire body of work, The Cinema of Sara Gómez unpacks her complex life and gives weight to her groundbreaking cinema.

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Marchessault, Janine & Scott MacKenzie (eds). Process Cinema: Handmade Film in the Digital Age. Toronto: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2019.

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Handmade films stretch back to cinema's beginnings, yet until now their rich history has been neglected. Process Cinema is the first book to trace the development of handmade and hand-processed film in its historical and contemporary contexts, and from a global perspective. 

Mapping the genealogy of handmade film, and uncovering confluences, influences, and interstices between various international movements, sites, and practices, Process Cinema positions the resurgence of handmade and process cinema as a counter-practice to the rise of digital filmmaking. This volume brings together a range of renowned academics and artists to examine contemporary artisanal films, DIY labs, and filmmakers typically left out of the avant-garde canon, addressing the convergence between the analog and the digital in contemporary process cinema. Contributors investigate the history of process cinema - unscripted, improvisatory manipulation of the physicality of film - with chapters on pioneering filmmakers such as Len Lye and Marie Menken, while others discuss an international array of collectives devoted to processing films in artist-run labs from South Korea to Finland, Australia to Austria, and Greenland to Morocco, along with historical and contemporary practices in Canada and the United States. 

Addressing the turn to a new, sustainable creative ecology that is central to handmade films in the twenty-first century, and that defines today's reinvigorated film cultures, Process Cinema features some of the most beautiful handcrafted films and the most forward-thinking filmmakers within a global context.

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Marchessault, Janine & Will Straw (eds). Oxford Guide to Canadian Cinema. London: Oxford University Press, 2019.

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The chapters in The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Cinema present a rich, diverse overview of Canadian cinema. Responding to the latest developments in Canadian film studies, this volume takes into account the variety of artistic voices, media technologies, and places which have marked cinema in Canada throughout its history. Drawing on a range of established and emerging scholars from a range of disciplines, this volume will be useful to teachers, scholars, and to a general readership interested in cinema in Canada. Moving beyond the director-focused approach of much previous scholarship, this book is concerned with communities, institutions, and audiences for Canadian cinema at both national and international levels. The choice of subjects covered ranges from popular, genre cinema to the most experimental of artistic interventions. Canadian cinema is seen in its interaction with other forms of art-making and media production in Canada and at the international level. Particular attention has been paid to the work of Indigenous filmmakers, members of diasporic communities and feminist and LGBTQ artists. The result is a book attentive to the complex social and institutional contexts in which Canadian cinema is made and consumed.

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McKinney, Cait. Information Activism: A Queer History of Lesbian Media Technologies. Durham: Duke University Press, 2020.

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For decades, lesbian feminists across the United States and Canada have created information to build movements and survive in a world that doesn't want them. In Information Activism Cait McKinney traces how these women developed communication networks, databases, and digital archives that formed the foundation for their work. Often learning on the fly and using everything from index cards to computers, these activists brought people and their visions of justice together to organize, store, and provide access to information. Focusing on the transition from paper to digital-based archival techniques from the 1970s to the present, McKinney shows how media technologies animate the collective and unspectacular labor that sustains social movements, including their antiracist and trans-inclusive endeavors. By bringing sexuality studies to bear on media history, McKinney demonstrates how groups with precarious access to control over information create their own innovative and resourceful techniques for generating and sharing knowledge.

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McKinney Cait, & Allyson Mitchell. Inside Killjoy’s Kastle: Dykey Ghosts, Feminist Monsters, and Other Lesbian Hauntings. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2019.

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Hundreds of years of ridicule, persecution, erasure, misunderstanding, and institutionalization could put anyone in a bad mood. Killjoy invites you into her kastle for a queer exorcism and celebration of the past.

Lesbian feminist histories can have a haunting effect on the present. This book explores the making and experience of Killjoy’s Kastle: A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House, an immersive walk-through installation and performance artwork (by Allyson Mitchell and Deirdre Logue) that materializes the frightfully acrimonious past for today. Inspired by Evangelical Christian hell houses, the exhibition has been staged in four cities so far – Toronto, London, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia – inviting visitors to interact with humorous and frightening manifestations of the spirits that haunt feminist and queer history.

Whereas traditional hell houses set out to scare and convert, Killjoy’s Kastle cheekily aims to provoke and pervert. The humorous and costumed characters in the kastle – including polyamorous vampiric grannies, a demented women's studies professor, and lesbian zombie folksingers – give expression to old and new anxieties, creating a space for critique, affect, and discussion. Inside Killjoy’s Kastle fills this space by exploring the kastle’s theoretical and political legacies in chapters by queer and feminist scholars and in vignettes by artists who participated in the project. The many colourful photos in the book also bring Killjoy’s Kastle to life, offering an important visual context.

Taking the kastle as a starting point, the contributors to this volume consider the role of lesbian feminist histories and direct-action aesthetics in contemporary queer and feminist communities, particularly the ways in which political artwork can produce new ways of knowing about the past.

This book will appeal to audiences of queer and feminist art; scholars and students of gender, women’s, and sexuality studies, queer theory, art criticism, and performance studies; queer and feminist cultural and direct-action communities; and those who have toured the Kastle to date or have heard about it through the heated media coverage or online discussions.

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Nagam, Julie, Carly Lane & Megan Tamati-Quenell, eds. Becoming Our Future: Global Indigenous Curatorial Practice. ARP Books, 2020.

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Becoming Our Future: Global Indigenous Curatorial Practice explores how Indigenous visual art and culture operate within and from a structural framework that is unique within the cultural milieu. Through a selection of contributions by Indigenous curators, artists, and scholars brings together perspectives that define curatorial practices, and at the same time postulates Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination within the three countries. These compelling essays begin to unearth the connections and historical moments that draw Indigenous curatorial practices together and the differences that set them apart.

With contributions from Nigel Borell, Freja Carmichael, Karl Chitham, Nici Cumpston, Léuli Eshreghi, Reuben Friend, Jarita Greyeyes, Ioana Gordon-Smith, Dr. Heather Igloliorte, Jaimie Isaac, Carly Lane, Cathy Mattes, Kimberley Moulton, Lisa Myers, Dr. Julie Nagam, Dr. Jolene Rickard, Megan Tamati-Quennell, Josh Tengan, and Daina Warren.

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Nagam, Julie and Janine Marchessault, eds. Holding Ground: Nuit Blanche and other Ruptures. Toronto: PUBLIC Books, 20202. 

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This edited collection brings together historical, contemporary, and future-oriented ways of understanding public art in, and adjacent to, the development of Nuit Blanche in Canada. Personal reflections, dialogues, and projects generate a multiperspectival and cross-cultural sense of this all-night public exhibition, which has spanned numerous Canadian cities and forged countless community relations. In addition, it weaves international voices into the dialogue on public art and public space. With contributions by Hiba Abdallah, Karen Alexander, Fern Bayer, Honoure Black and NiigaanwewidamJames Sinclair, Carole Boughannam, Karl Chitham, Sara Diamond, Alyssa Fearon, Peggy Gale, GLAM Collective (Heather Igloliorte, Julie Nagam, Carla Taunton), Édouard Glissant and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Jenn Goodwin, Maria Hupfield, Umbereen Inayet, Serena Keshavjee, Justin Langlois, Janine Marchessault, Denise Markonish, Ashley McKenzie-Barnes, bpNichol, Leah Sandals, Haema Sivanesan, Synonym Art Consultation (Chloe Chafe and Andrew Eastman), and Jean-Philippe Uzel.

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Robinson, Dylan. Hungry Listening: Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2020.

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Hungry Listening is the first book to consider listening from both Indigenous and settler colonial perspectives. A critical response to what has been called the “whiteness of sound studies,” Dylan Robinson evaluates how decolonial practices of listening emerge from increasing awareness of our listening positionality. This, he argues, involves identifying habits of settler colonial perception and contending with settler colonialism’s “tin ear” that renders silent the epistemic foundations of Indigenous song as history, law, and medicine. 

With case studies on Indigenous participation in classical music, musicals, and popular music, Hungry Listening examines structures of inclusion that reinforce Western musical values. Alongside this inquiry on the unmarked terms of inclusion in performing arts organizations and compositional practice, Hungry Listening offers examples of “doing sovereignty” in Indigenous performance art, museum exhibition, and gatherings that support an Indigenous listening resurgence.

Throughout the book, Robinson shows how decolonial and resurgent forms of listening might be affirmed by writing otherwise about musical experience. Through event scores, dialogic improvisation, and forms of poetic response and refusal, he demands a reorientation toward the act of reading as a way of listening. Indigenous relationships to the life of song are here sustained in writing that finds resonance in the intersubjective experience between listener, sound, and space.

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Shedden, Jim & Barbara Sternberg. Moments of Perception: Experimental Film in Canada. Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane Editions, 2021. 

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Moments of Perception is a landmark book. The first history of twentieth and early-twenty-first-century Canadian experimental filmmaking, it maps avant-garde film across the country from the 1950s to the present day, including its contradictions and complexities.

Experimental film is political in its very existence, critical of the status quo by definition. In Canada, some of the country’s best-known artists took up the moving image as a form of artistic expression, allowing them to explore explicitly political themes. Mike Hoolboom’s exposure of the horror of AIDS, Josephine Massarella’s concern for the environment, and Joyce Wieland’s satiric look at US patriotism are just a few examples of work that contributed to social movements and provided a means to explore issues of race and gender and 2SLGBTQ+ and Indigenous identities.

Featuring a major essay on the history of the movement by Michael Zryd and profiles of key filmmakers by Stephen Broomer and editors Jim Shedden and Barbara Sternberg, Moments of Perception offers a fresh perspective on the ever-evolving history of Canada’s experimental film and moving image media arts.

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Wasson, Haidee. Everyday Movies: Portability and the Transformation of American Culture. Oakland: University of California Press, 2020.

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Everyday Movies documents the twentieth-century rise of portable film projectors. It demonstrates that since World War II, the vast majority of movie-watching did not happen in the glow of the large screen but rather took place alongside the glitches, distortions, and clickety-clack of small machines that transformed home, classroom, museum, community, government, industrial, and military venues into sites of moving-image display. Reorienting the history of cinema away from the magic of the movie theater, Haidee Wasson illustrates the remarkable persistence and proliferation of devices that fundamentally rejected the sleek, highly professionalized film show. She foregrounds instead another kind of apparatus, one that was accessible, affordable, adaptable, easy to use, and crucially, programmable. Revealing rich archival discoveries, this book charts a compelling and original history of film that brings to light new technologies and diverse forms of media engagement that continue to shape contemporary life.

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