In this session, we will be joined by Rosemary Grennan and Anthony Iles from MayDay Rooms to explore creative ways of working with archives. We will look closely at the collection at MayDay Rooms and will find out more about the practicalities of working with archives, and the vital role they play in preserving and presenting the visual cultures of radical politics.
MayDay Rooms was established in 2013. It aims to safeguard histories and documents of radicalism and resistance by connecting them with contemporary struggle and protest. and by developing new free forms of dissemination and collective self-education. Our building contains an archive of historical material linked to radical history. Alongside our material archives, we create and maintain digital archives and databases of radical history, with the hope that these traces of the past might freely be taken up and put to use in present struggles. Our work proceeds from the conviction that social transformation can only happen when marginalised and oppressed groups can get to know – and tell – their own histories “from below”. This historical work is a collaborative process, drawing together activists and historians from different places and different times, in order to make common cause, sharing experiences and ideas. Our archival holdings are focused on social movements, resistance campaigns, experimental culture, and the liberation of marginalised and oppressed groups 1960s to the present: they contains everything from recent feminist poetry to techno paraphernalia, from situationist magazines to histories of industrial change, from educational experiments to prison writing. These documents challenge the widespread assault on our collective memory and the tradition of the oppressed. We aim to counter narratives of political pessimism with living proof that many struggles continue.As well as housing an archive, our building functions as an organising and educational space for activists, social movements, troublemakers, and radicals. We also run a full programme of events including film screenings, poetry readings, archiving workshops, historical talks, discussion and reading groups, and social nights.
Rosemary Grennan is part of the collective that runs MayDay Rooms, an archive and educational space in London. Most recently she has been working on leftove.rs a collaborative online archive of political ephemera with 0x2620 Berlin.
Anthony Iles is a writer, editor and educator. He is presently part of the collective running MayDay Rooms, an Associate Lecturer in Fine Art at University of Northampton and Commissioning Editor for the series Documents of Contemporary Art published by the Whitechapel Gallery and MIT Press.
In light of the current COVID-19 restrictions, the event will happen on Zoom – a link will be emailed to attendees. This event will be live captioned and transcription will be available afterwards. The event will be recorded for archival purposes. For help with how to set up Zoom and accessibility enquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.