VIVO Media Arts Centre Archive > Dossiers: The images, such as they are, do have an effect on us

The images, such as they are, do have an effect on us*

Hazel Meyer & Cait McKinney

A mail art project that draws on VIVO Media Arts Centre archives to enliven Vancouver’s histories of porn, feminism, and censorship.

By Hazel Meyer and Cait McKinney
Research and Design Assistance by Erin F. Chan
Conceived in dialog with Karen Knights and the Archive / Counter-Archive Gendered
Violence: Responses and Remediations case study.

In the 1980s, many Vancouver feminists opposed to porn drew on the language of gender violence to make their case, arguing that all sexually explicit images of women were harmful. Working against this position and the creep of censorship into smaller moving image formats in the province, queer and feminist artists defended sexual expression and created alternative visual languages for sex.

Participants in this project received one of two dossiers in the mail. Playing with questions of polarization and memory, one dossier represents the working files of an anti-porn feminist; the other of an artist/organizer involved in anti-censorship work. Some of the records are real, others we imagined based on scraps, remnants, and gossip.


Dossier labelled “Porn”

Dossier labelled “Censorship”

Hazel Meyer and Cait McKinney Collaborations

Hazel and Cait’s collaborations explore their shared attachments to queer histories through research, writing, and archival interventions. Their work has been presented by No More Potlucks (CA), Little Joe: Queers and Cinema Magazine (UK), PHILE (DE), INCITE Journal of Experimental Media (US), Eastern Edge (CA), EMILIA-AMALIA (CA), and Deep Down Body Thirst, curated by the collective Radclyffe Hall for the Glasgow International, SCT (2018). Their film Slumberparty, 2018 has been screened at various festivals including London International Film Festival (2018), Artists’ Moving Image Festival, Tramway & LUX Scotland, SCT (2019) and the Porn Film Festival Berlin, DE (2019.) They are currently working on They, Olympia a video about the 1990 Vancouver Gay Games.

*quote from Himani Bannerji’s address at The Heat is On! Women on ART on SEX conference
held at Women in Focus, Vancouver, 1985.
Image: Brochure from Visual Evidence screening and workshop series (1987) and photograph of
Elaine Miller, Vanessa Kwan, and Prune (2022).