Open Access (free)

Naming, shaming, framing?

The ambivalence of queer visibility in audio- visual archives

Dagmar Brunow

This chapter looks at the dynamics of visibility and vulnerability in audio-visual heritage. It analyses how film archives in Sweden and the UK, following their diversity policies, address and mobilise the notion of queer in their online exhibition, recognising and making visible queer lives, history and cinema, and how they negotiate the risks of increased visibility. As points of contrast and comparison, it discusses two queer ‘minor archives’ Bildwechsel (Hamburg) and the Lesbian Home Movie Project (Maine). Understanding archival practices as performative acts, this chapter examines practices of cataloguing and the use of metadata as politics of recognition, discusses the ambivalences of visibility, and looks at challenges for online curation in term of contextualisation and targeting audiences. It makes a case for an increased self-reflexivity of the archive, outlining how national film archives could foreground their own role in the production of (normative) knowledge. In view of the risk of queer vulnerability, heritage institutions such as national film archives are in need of a thoughtfully conceived and ethically executed archival practice.