‘My Evidence: Creating LGBTQI+ Art and Archives’ is a conference that will take place Thursday-Friday 3 & 4 October 2024, in Amsterdam at IHLIA LGBT Heritage (day 1) and Mediamatic (day 2).

What kinds of artistic and historical sources are circulated as evidence for trans and queer lives, and how should we evaluate the personal and creative dimensions of its presentation?

How can archives and art, or a mingled form of artchives, evidence the plentitude of queer and trans lives? Scholars in a wide variety of fields of study (queer, trans, disability, ‘race’/ethnicity), often from outside of the discipline of history, have seized on archival sources to locate ‘those of my kind.’ Artists have created their own records of existence and brought their aesthetic sensibilities to documenting historical and contemporary figures. Many of these efforts seem not so much about an attempted harking back to an affirmative, conflict-free past to claim “we’ve always been here,” but are rather geared towards opening up imaginative histories outside mainstream historiographical models. The profuseness of artistic and literary experiments with trans and queer archives signals a productive and transformative form of engagement that highlights polyphony and conflict. How can these creative tactics change our understanding of LGBTQI+ history? In what ways might this shift to the creative and the personal seed transformative potential for cultural heritage politics and policy more broadly?

Perverse Collections: Building Europe’s Queer and Trans Archives (PERCOL), an international research collaboration between the universities of St. Andrews, Maastricht, and Murcia, invites participants to explore these questions in an exchange-focused conference. PERCOL aims to map the growth of Europe’s queer and trans archives and collections, from the 1980s to the present, and to identify their ethical and political relevance for the wider cultural heritage sector. The conference intends to facilitate an exchange between scholars, museum professionals, artists, archivists, activists, and other practitioners working with LGBTQI+ art and archives. Propositions, materials, and case studies related to the UK, European, and Scandinavian regions (including wider migration trajectories and diasporic communities) are especially welcome. We understand ‘Europe’ as a project but acknowledge how it operates as a place as well. Acclaimed trans historian Susan Stryker, who is on the PERCOL advisory board, is a confirmed speaker.

We invite you to propose a short presentation of your response to the following discussion topics. We anticipate forming roundtables around these topics that kick off with a series of 4-6 responses to enhance the ensuing exchange.

  1. Ethical considerations when archives work with artists, and artists work with archives: what should be included in a care rider detailing conditions of engagement for the record, individual, and the organization (based on your experience)?
  2. Status of ‘evidence’ in various fields studies and institutional contexts: do we need to produce evidence of experience (and what kinds?) to show that we shouldn’t be persecuted, is this working to safeguard our lives?
  3. The archive as space of (un)belonging: in the face of widespread symbolic annihilation and epistemicide, who continues to be marginalized in LGBTQI+ archives and what is necessary to sustain their vulnerable lives and records?
  4. Creating materials and (dis)identifying bodies, in circulation: how are the profusion of archiving and narrativization practices, including their presentation and display tactics, changing cultural heritage politics and policy, and is the impact different for contemporary art spaces than physical archives?

Are you a skilled moderator and have expertise on one of these discussion topics? You can also propose yourself as a moderator for a roundtable.

Proposals should include:

  • Name, affiliation/profession, email address
  • 200-word proposal for your response (indicate for which roundtable)
  • 50-word biography

Please submit your proposal in the body of an email addressed to: percol-fasos@maastrichtuniversity.nl

May 1, 2024 – Submission deadline
June 1, 2024 – Notification of acceptance
July 1, 2024 – Provisional program announced and registration opens

Follow @perversecollections on Instagram for project updates!

Limited bursaries are available for PhD students and precarious workers traveling to Amsterdam from the UK or Europe. Send an email with a description of your expected costs to percol-fasos@maastrichtuniversity.nl

‘My Evidence’ will be a free event, and vegetarian catering will be provided (other dietary options will be available). The conference is organised as part of PERCOL by Eliza Steinbock, Sandro Weilenmann, and Layan Nijem (Maastricht University). It will take place in conjunction with the exhibition ‘Blooming’ at IHLIA LGBT Heritage curated by Sandro Weilenmann.

PERCOL is funded by JPICH.

Image: Anton Shebetko, Simeiz, 2021-, installation shot, Stedelijk, Amsterdam.