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Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley: Archiving what was left out

Four colourful figures, Image courtesy of Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley

In this talk, the artist Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley will evaluate archiving as a process of trust in the context of Black Trans people’s experiences.

By exploring Danielle’s practice, we will consider the historical context of erasure of Black Trans people’s existence, the role of contemporary archives in storing histories for the future and producing new narratives.

This event is the first in the 2021/22 NN’s Morphisms online talks programme.

About the artist

Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley uses the forms and imagery of video games to create works that consider “what archives have left out and how we can archive now.” Danielle works predominantly in animation, sound, performance and Video Games to communicate the experiences of being a Black Trans person.

Danielle’s practice focuses on recording the lives of Black Trans people, intertwining lived experience with fiction to imaginatively retell Trans stories. Spurred on by a desire to record the “History of Trans people both living and past” their work can often be seen as a Trans archive where Black Trans people are stored for the future.

“Throughout history, Black queer and Trans people have been erased from the archives. Because of this it is necessary not only to archive our existence, but also the many creative narratives we have used and continue to use to share our experiences.”

Their work has been shown in the Science Gallery, MU, Barbican, Tate, Les Urbains as well as being part of the BBZ Alternative Graduate Show at the Copeland Gallery.

About Morphisms

Morphisms is an online talks programme exploring transformations and new systems of knowledge production. To morph is to gradually change one thing into another by describing the state in between. 

As we build new digital and physical spaces at NN, we are thinking through these transitions. In October, we will launch the inaugural Library Stack Northampton Branch; the pilot programme for a digital lending library that explores both alternative publishing models and contexts for translocation. Through a role-playing experience developed with David Blandy, The World After Northampton, we will focus on gaming and speculative fiction for institution building; and through collaborating with the Northamptonshire Black Archives, we examine the potential of digital archiving as a postcolonial methodology for preserving and documenting regional Black histories. 

By way of these projects’ expansion, we will invite artists, curators and thinkers to address new movements and complex interactions. Speakers will discuss their methods of exploring inaccessible, opaque systems, such as internet platforms, online libraries, search engines, and how these play an increasingly significant role in the organisation of modern life. Morphisms will delve into the organising principles that inform these algorithmic projects and new forms of cultural intelligence.

The artist Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley will start the series and further speakers will be announced in due course.

Each season NN hosts a programme of lectures by leading artists, curators, art historians and critics, situating the organisational concerns within the larger context of contemporary art production and discourse. Talks are free and open to all, and will also be documented through audio recordings that reside in the NN Archives Talks will be online.

Access notes

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. For help with how to set up Zoom and accessibility enquiries, email maria@nncontemporaryart.org.

This event will be recorded for archival purposes.

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