Daylighting Erasure

DAYLIGHTING was a curated programme at Wellcome Collection that asked how we might breach or intervene on existing archives and systems of knowledge, to change narratives and amplify new voices. At the core was the production of DAYLIGHT, a collaborative artwork in the form of a newspaper exploring the presence of women through their art, thinking and speculations. Curated by Madeleine Hodge, Clare Qualmann and Amy Sharrocks DAYLIGHTING sought, in Adrienne Rich’s words, to imagine “the faint, improbable outlines of unaskable questions” and then attempted to make them more manifest in our current landscape, to phrase them in bold letters, shining a light on womxn’s history, carving more space for our future. The programme and the paper asked how we might collectively resist the inheritances of western imperialism inherent in our archives.

We worked with artists from a range of disciplines and included a number of trans, non binary artists and women of colour in the programme. Reflecting on recent scholarship about the exclusionary language that binds us to gendered norms and the epistemic violence inherent in the normative values of the archive felt important to the project and we used the word womxn and women interchangeably across the programme to represent the open future towards which we were working. The use of the word womxn was picked up by campaigners against the GRA (Gender Recognition Act) who complained very publicly about a tweet from Wellcome using the word. Despite conciliatory gestures towards us the Wellcome’s Press made a public apology (without our consent) to appease the twitter mob. We found ourselves in the middle of a furore that strangely reflected the erasure that the project was trying to resist, this was disastrous for our programme and created a narrow frame for the work we had created.

On December 5 2018 we gave a public lecture on the project as part of the Post Graduate Art Talks as part of the MFA Curating Course at Goldsmith’s.

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