Feminist Ethics in Archives

Gausden’s contribution to the event considers Castlemilk Womanhouse archive in relation Marysia Lewandowska’s Women’s Audio Archive. The talk considers the politics of memory in archives, the missing and absent parts that haunt and allow for generative speculations on what is present. Comparing the different ways in which both collections rub away at the myth of the autonomous artist to reveal a different ethics of conversation and care that sustains creative practice. The imperative in exploring these collections is not to fix history in place but to open up the archive as a discursive space for the future. In thinking on how to bear witness to complex past histories the talk considers the role of the archivist as listening to and caring for something living and precarious. The archivist enacts a balancing act between the practical and emotional forces within a collection, equally hoping to answer the calls of the past and anticipate the imaginations and desires of future archive users.

In order to think on these dreams and dilemma’s of the archivist Gausden alights on Victoria Worsley’s model of the archive. This model of the archive depicts it as a subjective territory that balances feelings and emotions and the irrational chaos of life. Given the nature of this territory the talk looks also at Lewandowska’s performance of uncertainty in the archive, which becomes a foundation for her creative praxis. Part of this performance is based in language and reflected by the nature of the audio, it is also connected to the central metaphor, which drives Lewandowska’s enquiry around the question of missing texts. Finally, Gausden asserts that for both of these archives personal and systemic survival are understood relationally. Part of the intervention is to assert the personal and subjective in the public realm. The form of the archive consequently works to reveal a whole structure of precarious and poetic social negotiations that support creative individuals.

Audio Title: 
Feminist Ethics in Archives
Audio Accession Number: 
AW. 001
Audio Speaker: 
Caroline Gausden
Audio Annotation: 
A talk given at the Glasgow Women’s Library Curated event on Feminist Ethics on Archives
Audio Location: 
The Centre for Contemporary Art
Audio Date: 
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Audio Duration: 
Audio Type: 
Public Talk
Audio Technical: 
Mostly clear
Audio Recording type: 
Zoom recording