This essay uses the collections of two artists formerly associated with the Cockettes—a 1970s queer, handcrafting, theatrical troupe—to propose a method of critical archival research that explores the possibilities and limitations of queer archival recovery acts within institutional settings. Combining sound, performance, material, and visual studies, the author analyzes the “sonic materiality” of these collections. This practice demonstrates how close reading the material condition of documents sharpens the researcher’s receptivity to embedded traces of past sounds, making the documents capable of relaying histories of queer performance that would otherwise go unnoticed through archival research methods centering on visual empiricism. Resisting common narratives of synced archival bodies and the silencing imperatives of institutional accessioning, reading the sonic materiality of these collections alongside one another reveals archival remixes wherein persisting traces of the informal artist-archivists cut up and through the meanings that the documents and archives’ infrastructures generate. Traversing disciplinary borders between humanities and archival studies, this method of critical archival research provokes ongoing collaborations among artists, archivists, and researchers to formulate new models of documentation and archiving that more fully account for queer histories within institutional repositories.
Garascia, Ann M.
"Handcrafting Archives: The Sounds of the Cockettes’ Intimate Archiving Practices,"
Criticism: Vol. 60:
4, Article 3.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/criticism/vol60/iss4/3