a       r       c      h      i      v       i        n        g

queer    and    trans    asian    spaces

The Interstate Digital Archive archive is defined by shared community, geography, and moments in history. In my capacity as the Interstate Archival Intern, I used digital technologies to document Mixed Blood Theatre’s production of Interstate. My objective was to highlight both the material and social production of Interstate by focusing on the relationships cultivated between concurrent openings of queer Asian art spaces in the Twin Cities during the spring of 2020. These spaces included:  //

//    “Keeping Home / Keeping Home”

A visual art exhibition by Tori Hong. Installed in Keefer Court Bakery & Cafe, Cedar Riverside Minneapolis, opening reception held January 30th, scheduled to through April 6th.

//    The Gender Justice Visibility Project

A photo narrative project (digitized version viewable here), created by Janet Nguyen at the Asian American Organizing Project (AAOP), Midway Saint Paul, community reception held at AAOP on January 31st.

//    “Time Loss”

A visual art exhibition created by Hayden Bui and Tori Hong, installed in the lobby of Mixed Blood Theatre, Cedar Riverside Minneapolis, opening reception held March 5th, scheduled to be on view through the run of Interstate, March 6th – March 29th.

Interviews with local artists explored their practices of space making and community building. The conversation with Tori Hong, Hayden Bui, and Tim Komatsu, was recorded on March 3rd prior to the installation of “Time Loss” in the lobby of the theater, two days before Interstate’s Preview Night on March 5th. The interview with Janet Nguyen was recorded in early May, one month after Interstate’s closing run.

LISTEN TO JANET NGUYEN, ARTIST AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZER

Digital archive links: Interview MP3, Full transcript PDF

LISTEN TO TORI HONG, VISUAL ARTIST, HAYDEN BUI, VISUAL ARTIST, TIM KOMATSU, AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT MANAGER

Digital archive links: Interview MP3, Full transcript PDF

Why does this archive exist?

Queer and trans Asian existence in “the Midwest” at large and Minnesota in particular is still often difficult to conceive, to believe, and to be. Interstate, first rehearsed and workshopped in New York, took on new significance when produced by Mixed Blood Theatre in Cedar Riverside Minneapolis, Minnesota. For this musical to enter the Twin Cities at a time overlapping with the openings of multiple new queer Asian creative spaces is an indication, to say the least, of the presence and the strength of queer Asian communities here. Mixed Blood Theatre’s space in the firehouse, Keefer Court’s storefront, and AAOP’s Saint Paul offices each house layered and multigenerational histories of their spaces. The overlapping creativity and community building within and between these spaces is what this digital archive seeks to document. In doing so, this project aims to do more than challenge dominant narratives of Midwestern whiteness. I believe digital archives themselves create new spaces with the potential to interconnect, expand, and overrun the boundaries of queer and trans Asian existence.

Note on COVID-19: Prior to statewide responses to the public health risk posed by COVID-19, I intended for this archive to include documentation of Talk Backs and events planned as part of Interstate’s audience engagement programming throughout the month of March. Partnerships with local groups included Theater Mu, Coalition of Asian American Leaders (CAAL), Asian American Organizing Project (AAOP), the Bisexual Organizing Project (BOP), Out and Sober Minnesota, and the Ring of Keys.

Who is the archive for?

The Interstate Digital Archive, hosted by the University of Minnesota’s digital content platform Elevator, is accessible online to the public. My intended audience includes anybody interested in histories of queer and trans Asian community in the Twin Cities, especially in theater and visual arts. The materials inside the digital archive were selected from over 200 total image, audio, and video files collected between January and May, which are stored on a separate platform internal to Mixed Blood Theatre. Full-length audio and video recordings of Interstate live at Mixed Blood Theatre are included in the archive under restricted permission.

Picture of the yellow Interstate stage from center audience perspective

Interstate Stage, Mixed Blood Theatre, 2020

Digital archive link: Rehearsal and Production Photos

What will happen to the archive in the future?

Administrative access and ownership of the Interstate Digital Archive will be handed to Mixed Blood Theatre.

My timeline and scope for this project did not have capacity to give full due to the rad history of queer Asian organizing and space making in the Twin Cities, which the communities and connections centered in this project could not have been formed without. Expansions on this digital archive would seek to make deeper connections to local community organizing history, to the Cedar Riverside neighborhood, and to more artists and space makers.

Created by Andrea Manolov | May 2020

Mixed Blood Theatre Archival Intern
UMN Heritage Studies and Public History, M.A. Student