Archivist Fingers

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


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

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

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

Pride, that old Bitch.
silkscreened handkerchief
edition of 69;
69 artist prints
14”h x 14″w

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, Pride has officially become both the aged queen we adore and owe a model of riot-based survival to, and a gluttonous caricature of corporate assimilation.  This handkerchief celebrates and reads Pride as the complicated family member she is, while implicating the queer community through the vernacular of flagging, which insists that we either are her or are looking for her.  Pride, that old Bitch.’s design is sourced from the 19th century illustrations of yet older bitch Aubrey Beardsley, recomposed into an assembly of arch gestures and/ or tenderly caressing fingers emerging from oversize ruffles.  The historical distance of these source images point to the enduring legacies of queer culture, and the unfixed futures of our continued resistance.

Reach through the tight pucker of time; Feel their survival against your skin

custom-made soap with towel in silk-screened bag; Riso-printed information card
edition of 129
5”h x 4″w x 2″d
“A little steam for tradition’s sake. But they made their own heat.” This box-set edition of the ephemera that should have been functions as both memorial homage and just-add-water toolkit. A risograph print collects a series of archival references describing the Everard Baths’ pleasures and dangers, abjection and enduring allure. A drawstring bag silkscreened with the edition’s title invites you to “Reach through the tight pucker of time; Feel their survival against your skin.” The bag opens to reveal an immodestly small towel, and a bar of soap—boasting the size of the baths and imprinted with a pair of crowns flanking Poseidon’s staff— to lather in celebration of the centenary the gay bathhouse would have had, if not shuttered in the early years of the AIDS crisis.

available at Issue Press and Printed Matter

Spirit Fingers: After Wittig
edition of 250
6”h x 4″w x 1/2″d

Spirit Fingers: After Wittig intercepts a passage from Monique Wittig’s iconically visceral 1973 book The Lesbian Body (original title, Le Corps Lesbien) on the foam silhouette of a hand.  Dissonance between the intimate address and invitation of the text, and the hand’s design referencing the public display of affection that is fandom offers a parallel to the internal dissonances at play in various physical exchanges.  Sporting events foreground both raw physical aggression and the deft articulation of movement, both communal celebration and the possibility for threat in an impassioned crowd, while the pleasures of erotic encounters often traffic in the promise of a shattering of the self: “You are obliged to hold m/e on the ground because of the shaking of m/y body.”

available at Printed Matter & Fuse Works

After Anne Carson, After Sappho
foil-stamped acrylic pick mounted in laser-cut mountsigned and numbered in an edition of 100
2″ x 2″

This pick – or plectrum, which the lyric poet Sappho is credited with inventing – is foil-stamped with a fragment of Anne Carson’s translation of Sappho’s Fragment 31, also known as the Poem of Jealousy, sourced from If Not Winter: Fragments of Sappho (Vintage, 2003).  Each pick is set into a laser-cut mount that still bears the tendriled smoke patterns of its production, pointing back to the burning energy that fueled the poem.

available at Printed Matter & Fuse Works

Ever Your Friend
1-color risograph print interiors (in flat gold & burgundy) on 70#t Domtar Cougar Offset Natural, hot foil cover on 80#c French Paper Co. Construction Paver Red, 60#t French Paper Co. Parchtone Aged end sheets; Perfect Bound; 56 pages
edition of 275
7″ x 7″
George Wietor has made no shortage of beautiful things on his Risograph duplicators at Issue Press but this extra smart artist book by Anna Campbell is one of our absolute favorites. A terrifically ethical and poetic approach to working with historical materials.
Half Letter Press

A collection of images abstracted from the photo collection of the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn, NY. Compiled during a month in residence at the Archive, these images have been modified, isolating only hands, bare arms, and any objects they may hold. This selective editing prompts the viewer to fill in the gaps not only of the physical image itself but also in the narratives of everyday lesbian life they depict.  The essay below is reprinted from Ever Your Friend:


Fingers curled around a cigarette, a hand on a shoulder, the tension in the space between bodies: the images in Ever Your Friend are fragments drawn from the files of the Lesbian Herstory Archives’ photo collection.  Few of the women represented in the collection are well known; many are anonymous.  What remains enigmatic about any of them exceeds what those photographs reveal. That their hands, bare arms, and the objects they hold have been isolated from the full context of the archival images parallels the ellipsis of our understanding.

Images in the Archives’ photo collection include ephemera from theatres and nightclubs, clippings from newspapers, portraits, publicity photos, photocopies, postcards, erotica, and the occasional tintype, but the photo collection overwhelmingly consists of vernacular photography documenting parties, protests and everyday lesbian life.  These images have largely not been seen outside of the Archives, as a process for securing the permissions for publication was not in place at the time the photo collection was established.  My tight focus on small areas of exposure in these photographs allows for the possibility of their reproduction, but also foregrounds the tone of a gesture, the intimate contact between women, and the significance of the lesbian hand as an instrument of sexual pleasure.

The intimacy of paging through this book is meant to extend the experience of researching in the photographic collection; its diasporic distribution functions as an inversion of the aggregation of material by the Archives.  As a bound collection, the book’s spreads create a series of formal associations and visual puns that cross geographic, generational, racial and class distinctions.

The title of this volume is borrowed from the back of a portrait photograph that was inscribed “Ever Your Friend, Ida.”  The subtlety of that line and all that it might imply aligns with the desiring charge of this project:  to re-image profound embodiments, affiliations, and passions through the sparest of gestures.

available at Issue PressPrinted Matter & Fuse Works