The Women's Audio Archive is a collection of recordings of private conversations, seminars, talks, conferences, and public events that Polish-born, London based artist Marysia Lewandowska carefully compiled from 1985 to 1990. Over 200 hours of audio that began as a fictitious archive that provided an interface and a cover for approaching key female figures in the arts and talking to them at length. The ideas and concerns of the second wave of feminism run through these mostly informal recordings, underpinned by Marysia’s intuition and her desire “to write that history with them, and to find myself in the present.”
In 2009, Lewandowska was invited by Maria Lind, Director of the Centre for Curatorial Studies (Bard College, NY) at the time, to digitize the material and work with the collection in an effort of making it available online and decided to turn this private collection into an online public archive under a Creative Commons license. The process includes documenting the negotiations involved in bringing about this change of status, twenty years later.
SON(I)A talks to Marysia Lewandowska about the Women’s Audio Archive, about the crucial need to generate counter-narratives in totalitarian regimes, about networking before networks, about the boundaries between the private and the public, the negotiations generated by the shift from one sphere to another, the responsibilities of the archive, and the potential to generate conversation through art.
This podcast includes fragments from the Women’s Audio Archive and the voices of (in order of appearance): Marysia Lewandowska, Nourbese Philip, Nan Goldin, Nancy Spero, Allan Kaprow, Jo Spence, Lynne Tillman, Donald Judd, Maureen O. Paley, Susan Hiller, Lynne Tillman, Judy Chicago. The complete recordings are available at Women's Audio Archive.
03:10 Marysia Lewandowska: A good moment to reflect on the Women's Audio Archive.
03:26 M. Nourbese Philip: the loss of the original tongue, in search of a missing text.
07:37 Marysia Lewandowska: Setting up a mode of working to be in control and to understand the culture around.
09:10 Nan Goldin and Marysia Lewandowska: The desire for conversation.
12:30 Marysia Lewandowska: From public recordings to private conversations
14:10 Judy Chicago: The way women communicate.
15:07 Marysia Lewandowska: A conversation can't be scripted.
16:00 Allan Kaprow: Post-68.
18:35 Marysia Lewandowska: Thinking of self-archiving, keeping a record of what happens.
21:36 Jo Spence: A split subjectivity.
25:10 Marysia Lewandowska: Developing a voice.
29:15 Lynne Tillman: Chit-chatting about the menu.
29:45 Marysia Lewandowska: The previous experience in Poland, clubs, discussions, amateur films and other strategies to survive.
36:01 Marysia Lewandowska: Making it public and the question of access.
38:08 Donald Judd: The challenge of making things permanent
40:09 Marysia Lewandowska: A new structure for an archive and the negotiation process
51:19 Maureen O. Paley: Women have led, women have fought
52:40 Marysia Lewandowska: Important conversations.
53:40 Susan Hiller and Marysia Lewandowska: Saying the one thing you want to say.
56:40 Marysia Lewandowska: The need for the archive to be intact.
58:52 Susan Hiller: I believe in reciprocity.
01:01:24 Marysia Lewandowska: Self-instituting by giving it a name.
01:02:35 Judy Chicago: Being lady-like.
01:03:13 Marysia Lewandowska: Many of the women were feminists.
01:04:53 Nancy Spero: My vulnerability through the language of Artaud.
01:08:49 Marysia Lewandowska: A network before email, before digitization and before the internet.
01:11:25 Judy Chicago: Discrimination.
01:12:44 Marysia Lewandowska: Bad recordings.
01:13:13 Judy Chicago
01:14:35 Marysia Lewandowska: How the Museum gets distributed, artworks starting a conversation.
01:16:57 An unsuspected archival finding to end this conversation.