Inspired by the GLAM blog club theme of collaboration this month, I thought I would highlight some recent and upcoming queer collaborations in galleries, libraries, archives and museums and, in doing so, prepare a GLAMorous guide to Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival in 2018. I love that these collaborations are blurring the lines between GLAMs (with galleries in libraries, archives in galleries – and in library galleries- , museums in galleries, and more) whilst often blurring the digital/physical environment binary as well as gender binaries. These GLAM institutions are providing a platform for some of the most marginisalised voices within LGBTIQA+ communities (including First Nations Peoples, People of Colour, trans and gender diverse people, and veterans), bringing academic research to the broader community, creating space to talk about mental health issues and experiences, providing opportunities for intergenerational conversations, and/or using digital technology to connect people with each other and their physical environments in creative ways.
I note with interest that many of the venues have hosted cardi parties: ACMI, Gasworks Arts Park, Melbourne Library Service, State Library of Victoria, Bargoonga Nganjin library… coincidence? Quite possibly, but I like to think it’s a sign that NewCardigan have been planting seeds for queer (and other excellent and progressive) collaborations.
I realise it probably would have helped to arrange this as a chronological timeline or perhaps by particular locations, but I’ve been reading about queer time and space, so this is the (dis)order it will stay in.
Incinerator Gallery in association with Midsumma Festival
20 January – 18 February
I am particularly proud of this one as it’s in Rainbow Valley, so I have had a small part in making it happen. The Incinerator Gallery have been amazing over the past few years, and this was recognised by Midsumma approaching them to co-host this event with them.
Black Magic features works by queer, trans, gender diverse and sistergirl/brotherboy Indigenous artists, Peter Waples-Crowe, Dianne Jones, Kent Monkman, Todd Fernando, Neika Lehman, and Jeremy Anderson. They explore themes of shame and sex, morality and eroticism, the history of Christianisation, and embodied sovereignty.
Also see First Nations Pride, an event associated with this exhibition which further unpacks the effects of colonisation on Indigenous bodies.
If any colleagues I know from Rainbow Valley Libraries want ideas for a complementary book display at their branches, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Wyndham Art Gallery
18 January- 18 March
GOWEST is featuring another First Nations artist, Kamahi Djordon King, on the other side of Melbourne’s west – Werribee. It looks like it will be multimedia works which I think may be of particular interest to techy GLAMorous folk and will prominently feature a dog which may appeal to the rare non-cat loving kind of librarian. It’s also open for longer than the standard Midsumma period which is great because it means you won’t have to rush to see it and everything else, and also it’s always great to see organisations (and somewhat rare) supporting LGBTIQA+ communities beyond Midsumma.
Blak Dot Gallery
18 January- 4 February
‘Blak-Queer Futurism’ looks at utopian and dystopian futures and draws upon the resilience, knowledge and spirituality of indigenous people here and overseas. Artists will imagine a future where they are the revolutionaries, the trailblazers, and the change-makers of now and tomorrow. This is the kind of thing I would love to see museums and libraries doing and it actually reminds me a little of the Transpossible exhibition at Library at the Dock earlier this year.
Gasworks arts park
17 January- 4 February
An art exhibition that goes beyond gallery/museum binaries, digital/physical world binaries and gender binaries is very relevant to my interests. It’s inspired by classical art and ancient archaeological artefacts and uses printed and sculptural augmented reality works.
Presented by Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives and City of Melbourne Library Service
11 January – 3 February
Launch: 17 January, 6-7.45pm
This exhibition has drawn on a large research project on Australian LGBTI military history which makes me excited because you might have gathered I am pretty passionate about helping researchers do community engagement beyond academia… It will commemorate 25 years since the ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual people serving in the Australian Defence Force was lifted. Transgender service was banned until 2010 (!). It focusses on LGBTI military service since World War II.
Presented by Midsumma Festival and State Library Victoria in association with the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives.
19 January- 1 April
Launch: Thursday 18 Jan, 6-8pm
WE ARE HERE will feature new works by five contemporary visual artists (Susan Maco Forrester, Peter Waples-Crowe, Briony Galligan, Peter Lambropoulos and Archie Barry) whose works draw on archival material from the State Library Victoria and the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives. It is curated by Angela Bailey and will bring to life actual and imagined queer histories of the archives.
State Library of Victoria
2 February, 9pm-2am
The last time I went to a queer dance party it was one hosted by the State Library of Victoria and it looks like I will be going to another one because I can never resist the opportunity to dress up as a queer figure from history! It’s not just about the costumes though. This event looks like it will be pretty amazing and quite close to my vision for a GLAMorous homotopia.
21 January, 11am
From the State Library of Victoria to the City library.
In 2018 the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives turns forty and to celebrate four decades of collecting, preserving and celebrating Australian LGBTQIA+ histories, we are inviting you to come and join us in a special edition of our famous queer history walk. Join us as we make our way around Melbourne to explore stories from our very queer past. Same-sex marriage in the church – in the nineteenth century! Camp cafes from the early twentieth century! Gay Lib demos in the 1970s! Come along for a tour of the CBD as we get queer history out of the archives and into the streets. It’s starting at the State Library of Victoria and finishing at the City library, and I am involved, so you know there’s going to be some queer library history in there!
Presented by Yarra City Council at Bargoonga Nganjin, North Fitzroy Library
Check out Gemma Flack’s witty illustrations that explore themes of identity, vulnerability, feminism, self-discovery, and coming to terms with the whole concept of existing as a human. The exhibition is up now (I’ve already been) and on Thursday 1 February, 6-8pm at Bargoonga Nganjin, North Fitzroy Library there will be a free zine making workshops.
Out in Frankston
Presented by Frankston City Council at Frankston Library
5 February, 6pm
It’s great to see a Midsumma event as far away from inner city Melbourne as Frankston! Given Jason Ball’s experience combating homophobia in sport and highlighting the damaging impact of discrimination on the mental health and wellbeing of the LGBTQIA+ communities, I’m sure this will be a very important conversation.
Library at the Dock
Presented by queerspace
3 February, 3.30pm
A conversation about what cross-generational dialogue does, and what it could do better.
Joan Nestle, born in the Bronx 77 years ago, feminist and still using all the resistance knowledge that came from the social activism of the 1960s
Marie August, who came of age as a trans person in the mid-1980s and has traversed a myriad of different spaces in their life
Fury, poet, writer and queer activist.
A great example of simple library collaboration with a highly regarded LGBTIQA+ community health service – where the library is simply the venue for this conversation that will be led by the community. Public libraries are the perfect place for facilitating intergenerational collaboration and conversations because they work with and support people across their lifespan.
Presented by Dr Matthew Laing from Monash University
Library at the Dock
21 January, 1.30pm
Another library event that will bring academic research into the community! This one very much appeals to my history and gender, sexuality and diversity studies librarian and activist archivist side (although honestly all of these events do).
Melbourne Library Service will also host a Queer Reads session at the city library on January 16 and a Queer Reading Circle at the Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre on January 30.
Presented by Yarra Libraries
22 January, 7-8pm
Fitzroy Town Hall ballroom
This event is inspired by a new book (yay!) ‘Multicultural Queer Australia: Then, Now, Future’ with contributors such as Faustina Agolley, Tony Ayres, Paul Capsis, Anton Enus, Sally Goldner, Jeremy Law, Alyena Mohummadally, Christos Tsiolkas, Mama Alto, Ayman Barbaresco, Tony Briffa, Lian Low, Omar Sakr and Nevo Zisin. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know how much I loved Nevo Zisin’s recent memoir, so I’m very much looking forward to this. The book and discussion will acknowledge and celebrate the lives and insights of culturally, ethnically and religiously diverse LGBTQIA+ Australians.
Presented by Hobsons Bay Libraries
19 January, 6.30pm
Since many GLAMorous folk ‘secretly’ want to be writers, I think a few people will be interested in this panel discussion, exploring and celebrating queer culture, experience and identity. There will also be book sales and signings as well as a collection of recommended LGBTQIA+ reads from the library. It will be a great opportunity to check out the relatively new Newport library and community hub space if you haven’t already done so.
There are some other great events (including Rainbow Storytime) there on the same night as part of the Twilight Celebrations: https://midsumma.org.au/program/twilit18
Living Museum of the West
Pipemakers Park, Van Ness Avenue, Maribyrnong
27 Jan – 11 Feb
Opening 27 January 3 – 5pm | Exhibition Sat – Sun midday – 5pm
I am pretty excited about this as it is in the closest museum to where I grew up and I have fond childhood memories of exploring the space. It is going to be interesting to queer those memories. During ALGA’s 2017 history walk, I learnt about the queer history of another favourite childhood space- the fairy tree in Fitzroy Gardens – so I guess this is becoming an annual Midsumma experience for me.
Alisha Abate will translate and situate experiences of the body into architectural spaces in order to consider how the body is both used to inform architecture and design and how it can also shape the way a space is used. Her work will evoke the personal, emotional experiences of the individuals who worked in the various industries in Melbourne’s West, particularly those documented at the Living Museum of the West.
Presented by Midsumma Festival and QueerTech.io, in association with ACMI and RMIT:ART:INTERSECT
This will bring artists from around the world to together digitally, physically and queerly to contribute internet artworks, projects and provocations to the ongoing #queertech conversation.
Online from 12 Jan: http://QueerTech.io
Exhibition: Testing Grounds, 1 City Rd, Southbank
16 – 23 Jan | Wed – Sat 10am – 6pm
Exhibition: RMIT Spare Room, Bld 94 Lv 2 Rm 2, 23-27 Cardigan St, Carlton
31 Jan – 22 Mar | Wed & Fri 10am – 5pm | Thu 10am – 8pm | Sat midday – 4pm
Exhibition: RMIT Lightscapes, Bld 2, Lightwell, Bowen St, Melbourne
31 Jan – 22 Mar | Mon – Fri 9am – 6pm
Screening: ACMI, Federation Square – Fri 2 Feb 6.30pm
There are some other queer history, art, and storytelling events that are a little less GLAMorous which I haven’t included (it’s already a very long list) but I hope to make it to them too. Check out Hares and Hyenas, the Arts Centre and the Abbostford Convent in particular. I also realise I have missed a few gallery events but I have hopefully captured the ones that intersect most with the LAM in GLAM.
Inspired by all of the above and participating in the GLAM pride SA contingent at Adelaide Pride March, I contacted some GLAMorous friends and we decided to seize the day and register a GLAM Pride Victoria contingent for Melbourne’s Pride March. Please join us or get in touch if you want to find out more.
In the spirit of queer collaborations, I am keen to crowdsource some Australian LGBTIQA+ reading recommendations to hand out on the day, so please recommend via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter (@clareifications, #GLAMpridereads). They can be young adult fiction, literary fiction, poetry, autobiographies, histories, zines, comics etc.
We also hope to collaborate with librarians for refugees (so much collaboration) and have a no pride in detention theme for our contingent in solidarity with refugees on Manus and Nauru.
Reflections on GLAMorous queer collaborations
I have realised that working with ALGA has given me a more holistic understanding of the GLAM sector – beyond my current role. We have books, archival material, art and objects and support quite a lot of exhibitions so our collection and work is very GLAMorous. We have had to grapple with cataloguing, digitisation, preservation and conservation challenges and opportunities, which are not things I work directly with much at all in my client-facing academic librarian day job and they are not in my position description, but they do have quite a large impact on my role – particularly as I support history students and academics and help them discover, research and learn with gallery, library, archival and museum collections. It has very much informed my work and influenced the classes I deliver and resources I create for history students and beyond. It has also given me invaluable community engagement and project management experience. Whilst imposter syndrome (I think) makes me feel like I haven’t been able to contribute as much as I would like, I have been doing a lot of reading and listening (the first step to successful collaboration) and I am slowly building confidence and contributing more.
On a related note, cardi parties and GLAM blog club have been invaluable as a gateway to extending my knowledge of these challenges and opportunities and building my confidence to contribute. I found the cardi parties at PBS community radio station and the Royal Historical Society of Victoria particularly helpful for ALGA… In fact, they made me want to start a community of practice for primarily volunteer-run community archives because it does seem like we have quite a lot of common challenges and strengths and it makes sense to share our knowledge and experiences. If there already something like this, please let me know abiut it. If there isn’t one and you’re interested in being part of one, please get in touch. Alissa’s post on how to catalogue a beer can also came in handy recently.
ALGA has also helped connect me to my workplace and have a more holistic understanding of the university beyond the library. In particular, it has led to collaboration with academics and with student wellbeing staff. It has been pretty exciting to note that a few undergraduate and honours students from there have visited ALGA to do research for their assignments. I have also loved seeing a number honours and PhD students as well as researchers present at the last two Australian Homosexual Histories conferences (supported by ALGA). Admittedly I have not done as much collaboration as I would like, particularly with student wellbeing, for a number of reasons, but the need to start small is another important lesson I have learned about collaboration, so I’ll try to keep my grand plans in the closet for now. I’m sure you will hear more soon enough.
It is going to be an inspiring start to the year and will most likely be tiring for this introverted librarian, so I’m going to head back to the books now.