Kate Eichorn, Futurity in the Archive

A Short Note on Preparing a Talk for the Office

As I prepared this talk, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “What is the ‘Office of Recuperative Poetics’?” Despite my conversations with the bodies acting in its name, to date, the Office’s mandate remains elusive. I know or think I know that the Office is oriented to the archive, but it does not live in the archive and certainly does not live for the archive (there is no indication, not yet, that the Office has any such pretentions or aspirations). I know or think I know that the Office is not oriented to the past, at least not in any teleological sense. I suspect that the Office regards time as something that does much more than simply wear against the body. I suspect that the Office is a temporally complex institution and an institution that holds no desire to become an institution. I assume the Office is uncomfortable existing in institutional time, with its expectations, with its demands. I suspect the Office is a utopian idea. I suspect the Office does not exist and perhaps, never will exist. I suspect I am preparing this talk for a possibility—indeed, this is the subject of my talk—not the Office, which I’m just visiting, but futurity and more specifically, futurity in the archive.

March 7, 2012

5:30–7 pm
Steuben Gallery

Archives are most often imagined as spaces or structures that hold the potential to stage encounters with the past. With reference to contemporary activist archives, this talk examines the archive as a space of futurity rather than historicity. Specifically, it considers how encounters with archival documents and artifacts hold the potential to foster strategic alliances across eras, creating the possibility for a politics rooted in occupying different temporalities and occupying temporalities differently. At stake in this investigation is the extent to which archival proximity pries open new imaginaries and new potentialities that are integral to realizing future worlds and social relations.