Archivist Fingers

Lesbian Herstory Archives, installation view with shelves and library ladder

detail view of bronze fingers in profile with  archive shelves out of focus in the background
detail view of bronze fingers from above

detail view from below showing how the bronze fingers hook onto the library rail

detail of top rung on library ladder; a title plate reads "Archivist Fingers / Anna Campbell, 2014" and a graffiti drawing of a vulva is to its right
This permanent installation at the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn, NY consists of a collection of bronze fingers cast from the archivists who built and sustained that institution.  These fingers are installed in rotation on the library ladder that runs along a track in the Archives’ central room, mimicking both the queer labor and desire that is central to the survival of that space.

set of five bronze fingers and felt-lined wood case, archive ladder
case dimensions: 12”h x 36”w x 12”d


a white, muscled, gender non-conforming person wearing boxing gloves and viewed from the back stands in a ribcage shower; this image is projected onto the wall of a tiled bathroom
detail view of leather boxing gloves in sitz bath
detail image of a horizontal pipe, or rib, in the rib cage shower
The ribcage shower from the early 20th century doubly acts to stage this piece: the site where it was filmed is also the site where it was projected. The shower was designed for its imagined therapeutic effects, though the associations it provokes to a contemporary audience are likely closer to bathhouse and bondage than bowel heath. The spectre of the therapeutic is fraught in less comically bawdy ways, however, especially for the many candidates for therapy and reform, among them gender non-conforming people. This scene is staged as a post-bout shower, with gloves still on and the weariness of a fight still quite legible – or perhaps some version of cage fight might be argued to still be in play, as the form of the ribcage shower becomes a clear material metaphor for the more sinister effects of what was – or continues to be – understood as diagnosis and healing.

projection, sound, antique ribcage
shower installation
dimensions variable 8″w x 12″l x 6’h

Across the Surface

close-up detail view of projected image of sailor dissolving out of focus

detail view of projected image of rowing sailor in soft focus
projected image of two sailor hats floating in gentle waves

installation view of clinic waiting room window into which a double-exposed sailor is rear-projected

installation view of clinic waiting room window into which two sailor hats floating in waves are rear-projected
Across the Surface pairs opposing rear-projected videos illuminating the receptionist windows of a former medical clinic. A solitary sailor dissolves in and out of a scene where he stands rowing on water, across from a video of two sailor hats washing ashore together. Longing and loss in the tableaux combined with the reiterating crash of waves echo the similarly eroding force, suggested by the site, of the withholding of care from bodies considered other. As still images, the sentiment of the original piece is preserved by isolating single frames and extending the duration of the sailor’s dissolve, as well as articulating the grainy distance that separates a performative moment from a layered series of reproductions that read similarly to the memory of a feeling.

2 channel video installation/
archival digital prints
each 11” w x 16” h or 9” h x 12” w
2010 – 2013

Among My Many Failures

projection of a close-up of a plaster saddle being sawn in half by a slight figure in gingham leather chaps; the image is projected onto a screen above a dated Native American diorama and the sawn saddle is now int he diorama itself

detail shot of a plaster cast of a saddle that has been sawn in half is set into a diorama, adjacent a mural of canoes that share a formal resemblance

silhouette of a slight figure and a stack of dishes in front of an orange background, rear-projected into the window of a cabin

projection of a slight, slumped over cowboy figure onto a shed with a semi-transparent orange organza screen
For the collaborative work Among My Many Failures, I constructed elaborate sculptural props including a woven leather pair of chaps and a plaster simulacra of a saddle.  Footage of a cowboy figure using those props in the Native American dioramas of a partially abandoned natural history museum was re- projected into nearby exhibit space. A silhouetted settler engaged in domestic chores in a video by collaborator Chele Isaac was rear-projected in conversation with these props and videos; their redistribution within the site created a meta-text that played off the historical and spatial context of the museum. Viewers pieced together a counter- narrative to the story originally told by the dioramas; by problematizing these depictions of a contested period of American history, this work appropriated some of the tropes of heroic narratives, and engaged the viewer in unraveling an otherwise easily digestible site for “truth” as defined through the authority of a museum exhibit.

plaster saddle, 3 channel video installation
dimensions variable