Desperate Archives (2014), co-curated by Split Britches and collaborators, was an exhibition that re-purposed the performance group's archives as art installations at La MaMa Galleria. As Performance Studies scholar Benjamin Gillespie notes in his catalog text, "Desperate Archives exposes the infrastructure of performance by emphasizing process and attachment, highlighting collaboration as the project for the future. While these archives are generative, they are also full of refuse—remnants of the past that have been stored away for years waiting to be rediscovered and to perform publicly again. As you encounter these piles and heaps of things, consider how new attachments and associations are being made as you interact with one another as co-creators of this event.
"You are also invited to participate as performance consumers by purchasing some of the kitschy ephemera on sale to add to your own archive. Audiences can alternatively leave something behind as a contribution to the archive. This process of giving and taking, losing and keeping, holding and letting go, expands the archive and re-purposes it for the sake of something new. We encourage you to think about your own position as collaborator and help us catalogue this indeterminate world before time runs out."
Gillespie continues that "The objects found here are both close to home and not as a combination of domestic items mixed with the not so domestic. The disparate parts of the exhibition itself, and their inherent connection, are meant to reflect a distancing effect from the usual museum installations we are so used to. Things are playfully set out of place, disrupting the authoritative, linear framing associated with curatorial practice more generally. While the archive in this piece’s title might frame it as a kind of retrospective installation where the potential for the piece remains merely reflective of the past, its exploration is actually about the future, about hope, about cruising the potentials for a world made not so desperate through the proliferation of our attachments and connections with others."
Desperate Archives included contributions by Stormy Brandenberger, Terry Dame, Matt Delbridge, Oraison H. Larmon, Jo Palmer, Saskia Scheffer, Lori E Seid, Peggy Shaw, Vivian Stoll, Lois Weaver, Eva Weiss, and Susan Young. It was presented in conjunction with live performance by Split Britches and Man Meat Collective. This exhibition was assembled in collaboration with Split Britches' archivist Oraison H. Larmon.