Focusing on Cait McKinney and Hazel Meyer’s site-specific exhibition Tape Condition: degraded (2016) at the ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ+ Archives, this paper explores reparative and desire-driven approaches for working with partial and missing histories within archives. Focusing specifically on artists working as archivists, I consider how the limitations of evidence-based histories can be addressed through creative practice. The essay unfolds in two parts. The first examines a selection of objects from the exhibition to draw out the historical context of The ArQuives, grounding my analysis of the conditions that have created and perpetuated specific archival gaps; in this case, pornography made by or featuring lesbian and trans-identified people. I consider how the animation of specific historical narratives anchors the exhibition as an archival intervention that positioned The ArQuives broadly as a site of community, conflict, censorship, and activism in the past and the present. The second part of the paper examines key elements of the exhibition that exemplify McKinney and Meyer’s reparative approach to archival practice. Drawing on Eve Sedgwick’s (2003) theorization reparative reading practices as a strategy of creative resistance and resilience in queer life and Eve Tuck’s (2009) definition of desire-based community research, I argue that McKinney and Meyer practiced a creative methodology that supplants the paranoid position of archive fever with an erotic reparative impulse, or erotic fever.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.