The FAG tapes 5: Radical Returns vs. Nostalgia

Moving through the Cinenova archive cast a gaze back into the history of queer/feminist art + activism, a remobilization of ideas, tactics, philosophies, personalities and of course, fashion. Enablers sought to recover ideas from the past as a means of productively moving forward, beyond a romanticizing nostalgic impulse that can only produce loss and longing. Conversations of radical returns vs. nostalgia were a necessary bridge participants crossed. An intergenerational dialogue between seasoned activists and young-uns brought forth these concerns. Is nostalgia inspirational? Can it make us wish we were born decades before? Does this longing eclipse the urgency of recreating that which we long for, here and now?

Listen to …
Nostalgia —what’s wrong with it? 47 seconds. 2012/02/11


Dear Audience Member,

Is it necessary to look back to look forward? Maybe not, but what a good view, eh? The cinenova series is one of the most interesting set of history lessons I’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting through. And despite the naysayers, facebook and twitter have not killed conversation. Cheers to that.


Audience Member


“There is another history. A history that I have been taught; that I am told I am part of; a reconstruction of events, that I had no part in, causes that I didn’t cause and effects that testify to my sense of exclusion. This is the history that defines the present, the pattern that confirms and restricts our position and activities. History is not an isolated academic concern but the determining factor in making ‘sense’ ‘non-sense’ — of now. Yesterday defines today, today tomorrow. The values placed upon truth change, viewed from different orientations, different moments flicker with recognition, others fade into oblivion.”

— Lis Rhodes, “Whose History,” in The British Avant-Garde Film: 1926–95: An Anthology of Writings, ed. Michael O’Pray (Luton: University of Luton, 1996), 193.


I loved that people were describing a longing for community, yet we were sitting in community. Sitting, watching, laughing, drinking & eating. This is community. Perhaps people are concerned with longevity. That this was just a time and a place


…I found that since many of the works were made at least 20 years ago, the conversation shifted towards thinking about how things have changed and the level of nostalgia present in engaging this question. This is a form of inquiry that both interests me and frustrates me so I feel stuck on this as a point of focus and I want to question the relevance of this query


The search for belonging, the longing to be a part of a collective & the persistent deja vu of feeling like you missed the perfect moment of collectivity; I am gripped with the nostalgia for another more perfect time, more political fashion, more lesbian haircut. But still, I strive to love you, now.


Dear FAG Participant,

For 4 weeks now I’ve come to the Feminist Art Gallery for 4 hrs of inspiration, hopefulness & nostalgia. Feminist & queer movements from the past make us ache for collective resistance. We want to belong to a movement, feed off the energy of struggle and make connections with one another. The time is soon coming upon us for new collective movements, new revolutions, and new film & video art about this work. Be prepared, either as a participant, observer, activist, artist or other producer / witness.

See ya at demos, or the FAG, or a coffee shop soon.



Many of the screenings centered on social movements. After watching Amy Harrison’s documentary Guerrilla Girls, Midi Onodera encouraged an examination of representations of women and artists of color in the art world in the year 2012. Reflecting on the style of filmmaking in Some Ground to Stand On enablers debated “contemporary sites of video and film production and activism” in Toronto.

Listen to …
Radical Politicized Voices Post Guerrilla Girls. 27 minutes 10 seconds. 2012/02/04

Listen to …
Screening Activisms. 5 minutes 54 seconds. 2012/02/11