The Graveyards of Community Gathering: Archiving Lesbian and Feminist Life in London

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


On a quiet afternoon in 2014 I visited the BFI in London and saw Killjoy?s Kastle. To be precise, I saw documentation of Killjoy?s Kastle as it had been figured in Toronto: a fabulous, immersive environment populated by queerly creepy characters that I recognised from my dreams, my nightmares and sometimes my reality. As I sat, fascinated by the film footage and photographs, I was surrounded by gravestones, carved with the names of lesbian and feminist organisations that had been taken away from this life too soon. I recognised some of them: the women?s bookshop where I had browsed for hours, the bars I had haunted as a younger person, the community space that had fallen prey to cuts in recent months. I sat in this creepy, campy graveyard, admiring the crotcheted cobwebs and writing about the undead vibrations of these communities that now existed in memory alone. This article attends to the potential of Killjoy?s Kastle as a space of learning and community gathering; picturing queer feminist pasts that often don?t make the history books. The experience of ?afterness? that the gravestones activated will be considered in relation to queer temporalities, and the remnants and revenants that were ready to be revived by the act of making and viewing this installation. Drawing on conversations with Nazmia Jamal, programmer of Killjoy?s Kastle at the BFI and head of the London gravestone creators, this article will see how the artwork can be imagined as a script or a stage ready to be taken up in the future to create feminist communities around its celebratory wakes. The focus will be on London-based feminist archives and institutions including the Lambeth Women?s Project and the Feminist Library.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKilljoy's Kastle
EditorsAllyson Mitchell, Cait McKinney
Place of PublicationCanada
PublisherUniversity of British Columbia Press and The Art Gallery of York University Press
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2019


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