The goal of exhibitions at Interference Archive is to:
Interference Archive curates public exhibitions and programs for people to understand their histories in relation to social movements and community organizing.
Public exhibitions at Interference Archive create opportunities for community engagement. The goal of our exhibitions is to strengthen connections between communities organizing today, while emphasizing the cultural production that is part of social movements. We also aim to engage people with alternative narratives about themselves and the communities they live in. Our exhibitions often highlight stories, communities, movements, and cultural production that go unnoticed in mainstream venues, whether because of lack of awareness, perceived lack of interest, or lack of support from traditional institutional decision-making bodies. Exhibition topics often emerge directly from the materials housed in Interference Archive’s collection. Exhibitions also regularly bring external materials into dialogue with materials from Interference Archive’s collection, broadening the histories and stories that we share.
Exhibition organizing at Interference Archive places as much emphasis on process as on product: exhibitions are organized by ad hoc working groups that come together for the duration of the project and that work along the same non-hierarchical, consensus-based structure that our other working groups follow. These exhibition working groups generally include several Interference Archive volunteers; depending on the focus of the exhibition, they may include one or several community members who are working alongside us as volunteers on the exhibition, in addition to community anchors (at and beyond Interference) who more broadly guide the process.
We find that successful exhibitions involve six to nine months of planning. This process is collaborative and typically includes research (in Interference Archive’s collection or elsewhere), meetings and conversations with organizers and community members that are connected to the content or theme(s) of the show, determining the exhibition narrative and materials that will be displayed, writing and printing exhibition text, organizing related public programming, installing works and wall text, and deinstalling at the conclusion of the exhibition. All of this happens collaboratively through ongoing and regular planning meetings with the exhibition working group, with guidance/support from the wider volunteer community (in and outside of working groups) at Interference Archive, who have a range of knowledge and experiences.
Most exhibitions run for two or three months each; we occasionally mount exhibitions for one month, based on content and programming.
All of our exhibitions and events are free and open to the public. Any donations we receive at exhibitions and related events, and for any products that come out of the exhibition, support overhead costs at Interference Archive and the continuation of similar exhibitions and programming.
We’ve outlined a lot of our workflows and processes for organizing exhibitions in an internal Exhibitions Planning Guide: feel free to take a look!
Types of exhibitions we’ve organized in the past include:
- Resistance Radio: The People’s Airwaves (2019), a history of radio as a medium for grassroots movements and their organizing work. This exhibition included a high volume of audio material alongside print culture.
- Agitate! Educate! Organize! Agit Prop into the 21st Century (2018), an exhibition based entirely in our archival collections, providing a broad overview of how different movements have used different types of agitational propaganda across time.
- no. NOT EVER. (2018), a collaboration with If You Don’t They Will, a Seattle-based collaboration that provides concrete and creative strategies to counter white nationalism through a cultural lens. Interference Archive hosted their multimedia exhibition and contextualized it with materials from our collection.
- Take Back the Fight: Resisting Sexual Violence from the Ground Up (2017), an exhibition about collective, grassroots struggle by and on behalf of sexual assault survivors.
- Soñamos Sentirnos Libres // Under Construction (2016), a collaboration with Mobile Print Power to highlight old and new collaborations organized by this multigenerational collective based out of Immigrant Movement International in Corona, Queens.
- We Won’t Move: Tenants Organize in New York City (2015), a history of collective action by NYC tenants for decent and affordable housing from the 1940s to the present, with collaboration from tenant organizations from across the city to examine current campaigns.
- Browse more past exhibitions on our website.
Things that don’t fit as exhibitions at Interference Archive include:
- Exhibitions of political artwork. We focus on displaying social movement ephemera — things that are to be touched, studied, and passed around, and that were originally produced in multiples for widespread use and distribution
- Personal exhibitions. We try to tell larger stories than that of just one individual, to weave movements and communities with each other. Given this ethos, it is also important that exhibitions are organized and curated collaboratively.)
Interested in organizing an exhibition at Interference Archive?
Take a look at this model for how exhibitions have happened, and when you feel like you have an idea that fits with this vision, write to the volunteer collective either by emailing email@example.com (or by sharing on Basecamp, if you’re already a volunteer). We would love if you could share your reflections on the following questions:
- What is your exhibition about?
- How is this exhibition expanding on our communities’ understandings of social movements and social movement histories?
- What inspiration points does your exhibition take, including from in the Interference Archive collection? Why is Interference Archive the space for this exhibition?
- How will this exhibition be activated within and beyond the walls of the archive? With which communities?
- You’re the leader on this exhibition! What will make you feel like you and IA are in community with one another, including any support you would need? (Feel free to refer to the Exhibitions Planning Guide linked on this webpage.) How do you hope collaboration will stem from this?