Is Life a Cabaret? A living archive of the ‘Other’

Mama Alto, Sue McKemmish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In this article we engage in a co-authored autoethnographic conversation on Art-as-Archive and Archive-as-Art. Through the lenses of critical archiving theory and practice, we explore the societal roles that the cabaret and the archive play in storytelling, witnessing, and memorialising. We discuss how from the beginning the cabaret has played a radical, transgressive role as art and archive on the edges of society. By contrast, the traditional archive has privileged information elites and sustained the embedded racism, classism, sexism and heteronormativity of colonial structures and infrastructures. Yet, like the cabaret, the archive holds radical potential and possibilities to subvert, undermine and reconfigure our understandings and societal constructs. Consideration of the cabaret-as-archive and archive-as-cabaret provokes us to re-imagine archival spaces as radical, performative nodes in the vast networks of the Archival Multiverse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-545
Number of pages15
JournalCurator: the Museum journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

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