Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies 4.2 (2008)
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The Anarcha Project

The Anarcha Project   uses performative research methods to engage intersections between black history and disability history. Black history, disability studies and performance scholars work on remembering Montgomery, Alabama women Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey. This anti-archive envisions a site for a discussion of Anarcha and J. Marion Sims, the gynecologist who used slave women as experimental subjects while he was searching for a cure for fistula. Embodied in this site are artifacts from Anarcha performances and workshops in Montgomery, Detroit and Ann Arbor, and Berkeley. Using movement, words and visuals to connect Anarcha's story to disability history and black history, we sought to add to the anti-archive, to hear from others what they knew about this story, what it meant to them, the responses it compelled.

Enter the Anti-Archive    

Why an anti-archive?

Petra Kuppers writes: The archives of medicine give me little help in accessing the being-in-the-world experienced by someone other than myself. Encounters in art practice have better chances to move me, to expand my repertoire of emotions and motions. I witness (once) living bodies: voices and visions appear in proximity to me, in the registers of the everyday. The distance of the archive, this "objective" abstraction necessary to the generation of data, keeps me away. As a disability scholar, I grow sensitive to the level of interpretation and claim that surrounds historical embodiment, and the politics involved with someone pronouncing on a person's "quality of life." In the Anarcha sticky web, voices catch, words move, and disparate experiences come near.

In our discussions, she called her idea for the site a "sticky web" where the reader may be drawn in, but not always sure where the next link will lead. But others use the term "sticky web" as a measure of a site's traffic, and embedded applications to attract return visits.

Our definition and that of commerce are at heart the same. Our intent is to build community and to offer interaction with the site. But visitors here encounter a site being built on ergodic principles—that "reading" the archive takes more than trivial effort; a cybernetic text arranged and rearranged by the reader. Some of the images are larger than the screen, and invite people to pass the mouse across the image, aware of their own involvement in the act of sensing.

Anarcha Project Essay    Petra Kuppers  (PDF) 
With Anarcha: A Meditative Diary    Aimee Meredith Cox  (PDF) 
Design Notes    Jay Steichmann  (PDF)