Archive as Creative Space

Gretta Harley, Sheila Jackson, and Kitty Wu are talking about film-making and/as archiving. They are filming people and communities who have been left out of documentation–women in grunge, black women in rock, for example. Angelica Macklin is asking how the film-makers exercise their creative decisions when watching a long interview, only a small part of which can go into the film. How do they think about how to archive the rest of the material. Listening is so important, I hear as a theme, openness, understanding that a plan shapes what you bring to it, but you need to be open to changing direction.

Sheila says that archiving has become a significant part of her project. The topic is bigger than she thought, even bigger than the women she is interviewing for the film realized. Community-building, representation, recognition and archiving all connected for all three of these fil-makers.

Rock the Archive/Archive the Rock

I am attending a conversation about new ways of archiving with more community focus, interpretation, performance. John Vallier UW Archivist, raised some fascinating questions about how to leverage university libraries for community archiving, working with existing collections. Tara MacPherson shared great information about the online archives most likely to persist where people can upload digital collections: Internet Archive and Critical Commons. Sheila Jackson told us how she has created an on-line community that connects black women rock musicians and their fans. We talked about ethics of access–lots to think about. John wants to facilitate conversations between community archivists about what is needed and what libraries can promise. After we discussed all these issues, we segued into what John called, “How to bring performance into the archive, how to use archive to create new works.” We played instruments while listening to records–speeches by Angela Davis and Martin Luther King –while a silent film played on the wall. Bringing together the archival materials into jam session felt like a different kind of respect and care. We touched and used the materials not as artifacts or “information,” but for the other uses from their pre-artifact existence, only now in a new moment. They can still be used in creative ways.


Arriving at Washington Hall

Washington Hall resounds memories… Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix, we learned last year, and this year it reverberates memories of Women Who Rock 2012. Walking into the Hall I overhear two conversations about “Alice Bag and Medusa performed… Right there remember.” We greet each other, people who know each other, people who don’t. people who remember each other from last year. Women Who Rock honor the memories and make memories. Everyone seems ready to make more. What will we make this year? There is a sense of déjà vu, but also a sense of readiness and openness for making something together new.


Alice Bag and Medusa Keynote Event

Alice Bag just read an excerpt from her new book, Violence Girl. It is truly a revelation, this book. A MUST-READ. And what a treat to hear Alice read from it–such vibrations of love. And now she’s singing a punkchera, a ranchera with a punk band, it’s the gold coin ranchera, which she’s already told us has a punk sensibility. For her second excerpt, she decides to tell the story instead of reading it. She’s telling us about the glitter scene. She dreamed of Elton John, wanted to marry him–or just touch his garment. Now she’s going to sing “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” which is the song she sang in a school talen show when she discovered “what it was like to BE Elton.” Oh this is the best. The quality of the way she jumps into this song–and now she’s having everyone pass around the mic and sing the chorus. Medusa joins in. Now Alice is telling us about forming the punk band, The Bags, and they wore paper bags on their heads. She grew up in an abusive household. The band became a way to express her rage with her whole being. She reads from her book, a story about performing “Violence Girl,” a great story about rage and performance–I won’t do a spoiler here. Read the book. Medusa comes up to finish the set with Alice and the Januaries (SP?): “Babylonian Gorgon.” Oh, the love vibrations in this room! Mako and Maylei are going to interview Medusa, the “Gangsta Goddess of West Coast Hip Hop,” and Alice Bag. You know, if you want to follow a Blogger who is getting all this, check out “Blackboxprof” I see her taking the best notes.

But I will say, Maylei Blackwell just asked a great question of Alice Bag and Medusa: I paraphrase: You’ve been described as angry on stage, what do you do with your feminine energy onstage and how do you use the power of the erotic… Medusa talks about all the people in her work, not just one person, all parts of her work. Alice talks about feeling her strength, and it isn’t masculine or feminine, it’s androgynous, and connective.

Zapateado and Decima Workshop – Women of Seattle Fandango Project

I am live blogging and learning to Fandango at the same time.

This is a community practice. So I’m going to break away from the laptop and practice community through Fandango and then blog.

PAN cafe con PAN cafe con PAN cafe con Pan cafe con Pan

PAN     FE      PAN      FE     PAN    FE       PAN      FE      PAN

Wow, this is great. This is a way of connecting with everyone in the circle. The Fandango is the party, and some people dance, some people sing, some people play instruments. The songs are the poems, the Decimas are a form with 10 lines, each line has 8 syllables.

We have three decimas up to get the counting: one in English, one in Spanish, and one bilingual. The 7th syllable is the strong one, it’s where you feel the flow.

“In my voice I find the POW-er”

But if your seventh syllable is strong, that’s where you land.

“Through these syllables the TRUTH”

Now that we have learned the basic form, we are ready to write Decimas.

You know, it isn’t really possible to live blog and FANDANGO at the same time, but I’m glad I tried. I tried to connect this community-formation practice of FANDANGO with the community-formation practice of LIVE BLOG. What I love about what I learned from this FANDANGO workshop is the ethic of practice. Some people do it really well, and have lots of experience, but all of us were called into the circle to form community and taught basic steps and practice together. Now everyone is on the floor, writing decimas. Let’s do this every week.

Politics of Love Mix-Tape

UW Bothell Graduate Students performing a skit about how women are represented in popular music. Then they ask what people get from the skit about how women and love are represented in popular music. People came up with that strength in women is represented as hateful in popular music, women are represented as faceless and sexy, they are supposed to want to “land a man,” and be competitive, hyper-sexualized. After that list, we made another one about different ways to love, included cats, myself/identity, trust, non-judgment, solidarity, different people together, safety, respect, collaboration, something that wants to make you a better person.

Now we are in small groups, talking about quotes about love from activists, revolutionaries, feminist theorists. Che Guevara, bell hooks, Audre Lorde. The goal is to find songs we love that are about love that could be read as that kind of love we want. How to make those other other kinds of love songs. When we find a song that does it, we are going to make a CD cover. Wow, this is great. A little while ago we couldn’t think of any songs that we could find those kinds of love we wanted reflected in, now we are all working in glitter, marking pens, stickers, making our CDs. I’m making a CD cover for “Let’s Face the Music and Dance…” Sometimes that’s a sad song, but it’s also a song about seizing the moment, “Before the fiddlers have fled, before they ask us to make the bed, and while we still have a chance… Let’s face the music and DANCE.” The one is great for not throwing our capacity for love away on people who don’t care about us, it’s about not wasting time, it’s about using the time to make change…

Now we’re going to vote on the songs!!! This is fun.