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Unofficial Collaborators: Recovering Charlotte von Mahlsdorf. With Polly Thistlethwaite and Liz Snyder

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Mar 25, 2019
Mar 25, 2019
Segal Theatre

Photo by Mara Valderrama

Monday, March 25
Segal Theatre
6:30pm Lecture, Archive + Performance

FREE + Open to public. First come, first served.

Polly Thistlethwaite plunges into the archive with her partner Liz Snyder to explore true story representations of Berlin’s queer heroine, raconteur, and museum curator, Charlotte von Mahlsdorf. This lecture-performance invites audiences to speculate about the ephemerality and vulnerability of a queer archive, and the consequences of faking one. It is marked by uncertainty, overwhelm, and conflicting curiosities that serious researchers encounter.

The work surveils Doug Wright’s 2004 prize winning play I Am My Own Wife, a thickly documented, staged portrait of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf. It engages narratives introduced by Mahlsdorf’s (auto)biography Ich bin meine eigne Frau (written with historian Peter Süß) and the biographical film I Am My Own Woman (English trans.) by Rosa von Praunheim, both produced in 1992.

This investigation is incomplete, and it invites evidence to emerge. It exposes relevant, fabricated, and tangential documentation displayed using vintage and contemporary technologies.

Photo credit Andrew Snyder

Polly Thistlethwaite is Professor and Chief Librarian at the Graduate Center, CUNY, in New York City. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, while working in academic libraries, Polly also worked with the Lesbian Herstory Archives and the AIDS activist group ACT UP. Liz Snyder is a musician and performer who teaches elementary school music in Brooklyn, New York.

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