How to Build a Radical Archive: Oral History and the People Who Make It

October 11, 2023

Join Jewish Currents, in collaboration with the NYC Trans Oral History Project, for an event that brings together archivists, curators, and artists working to preserve and animate radical histories. What is the role of oral history in the social movement archive? What is the experience of making these histories, both for the historians and for their interview subjects? And who are radical archives for? Jewish Currents senior editor Ari Brostoff will moderate the conversation.

This event is part of the NYC Trans Oral History Project’s residency at the Park Avenue Armory. During the residency, which runs from October 2nd–15th, the archive will host an incredible array of LGBTQ+ artists, scholars, dancers, and oral historians who will share their work and illuminate the archive’s collection of stories from over 200 trans New Yorkers.

This in-person panel will take place at the Company I meeting room on the second floor of the Park Avenue Armory, at 643 Park Avenue in Manhattan. The main entrance to the building is on Park Avenue, between E. 66th and E. 67th Streets. The room is accessible via the building’s main staircase or the south elevator. There will be a sign outside the room, and staff on hand to help guide attendees. For further accessibility information and accommodations, reach out to the Armory directly at (212) 616-3930.

Ariel Goldberg is a writer, curator, and educator working with trans and queer lineages in photography. Goldberg’s books include The Estrangement Principle (Nightboat Books, 2016) and The Photographer (Roof Books, 2015), and their writing has most recently appeared in Lucid Knowledge: On the Currency of the Photographic Image, Afterimage Journal, e-flux, Jewish Currents, Artforum, and Art in America. Their exhibition Images on which to build, 1970s-1990s, which focuses on photography’s relationship to spaces for learning, was on view at Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art in mid-2023. Goldberg is currently a Diamonstein-Spielvogel Fellow at the New York Public Library.

Julián González Beltrez is currently the Reference Librarian in the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. González Beltrez is also a historian, writer, poet, translator, and troublemaker, whose work seeks to co-imagine and build beautiful and liberatory worlds from below.

Sindayiganza Photography

Obden Mondésir is an oral historian who was the former Associate Director of the Barnard Archives and Special Collections and is now the founding archivist at the Haitian Studies Institute at Brooklyn College. He has worked as the Oral History Manager at the Weeksville Heritage Center and the Outreach Archivist at Queens College. At the Weeksville Heritage Center, he spent the last five years leading oral history projects including Meals as Collective Memory and the Black Joy project. At Queens College, he managed the SEEK History Project to extend the documentation and understanding of the SEEK Program, which was established in 1966 and provided assistance to students entering college for the first time.

Headshot by Sindayiganza Photography.

Jenny Romaine is a director, designer, and puppeteer who is the co-founder/artistic director of the OBIE winning Great Small Works visual theater collective. She is music director of Jennifer Miller’s CIRCUS AMOK. Romaine performs, teaches, and directs in theaters, schools, parks, libraries, museums, prisons, street corners, and other public spaces, producing work on many scales, from gigantic outdoor spectacles with scores of participants, to miniature shows in living rooms. Romaine was a sound archivist at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research for 13 years and has drawn on Yiddish and pan-Jewish primary source materials to create art that has contemporary meaning.

Ari M. Brostoff is the senior editor of Jewish Currents.

The New York City Trans Oral History Project is a community archive devoted to the collection, preservation, and sharing of trans histories, organized in collaboration with the New York Public Library. The archive documents transgender resistance and resilience in New York City, works to confront the erasure of trans lives, and strives to record diverse histories of gender as intersecting with race and racism, poverty, dis/ability, aging, housing migration, sexism, and the AIDS crisis.

MUTANT;DESTRUDO is the Park Avenue Armory’s new commission by the multifaceted artist and creator Arca. It continues her practice of addressing themes of psychosexuality, science fiction, and gender identity.