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Please Help Yourself: Queer Preservation and the Uses of the Past

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Fiona Anderson



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Throughout 2017, cultural institutions across England and Wales marked the fiftieth anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of sex between men. In this essay I explore two projects about public sex and queer space developed in London that year by two contemporary queer artists: Liz Rosenfeld and Prem Sahib. Both employ queer approaches to preservation and archival labour in the face of imminent material erasure, particularly the loss of dedicated queer cultural spaces as a consequence of gentrification, and exhibit a queer disengagement with the public forms of commemoration enacted that year. I consider how Rosenfeld and Sahib’s work from 2017, which casts endemic gendered and racialising practices of exclusion and denial in sharp relief, imbues the practices of preservation and archiving with an erotic complexity and an embodied and radical urgency that underscores the precarity of queer spaces and queer archives in contemporary Britain.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Anderson F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Third Text

Year: 2021

Volume: 35

Issue: 1

Pages: 53-79

Online publication date: 22/01/2021

Acceptance date: 30/09/2020

Date deposited: 08/12/2020

ISSN (print): 0952-8822

ISSN (electronic): 1475-5297

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/09528822.2020.1861866


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Funder referenceFunder name
European Commission