Vancouver Independent
Archives Week


Sat. 01.06.19 / 7 pm Trans Archival Futures

Screening & Talk with Chase Joynt and Chris E. Vargas
VIVO Media Arts Centre

Chase Joynt and Chris E. Vargas are multi-media artists working at the epicenter of contemporary trans representational practice and visual cultural production. Trans Archival Futures is a presentation of their recent film and archival work: Vargas’ project MOTHA: Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art (ongoing) and Joynt's short film Framing Agnes (2018). The projects each interrogate the role of archives in this pivotal cultural moment wherein transgender issues are being foregrounded in the media yet competing narratives about community histories and struggles for social change are so often ignored or manipulated by the mainstream.

Vargas’ MOTHA asks gallery and screening publics to think critically about the construction and promotion of a consistent transgender visual history through the manipulation of familiar contemporary arts institutionalization and museum practices.

Joynt's Framing Agnes (2018) utilizes the now-canonical case study of Agnes in sociology as a springboard to question the legacy and impact of exemplary cases and medical research on the lives of trans and gender non-conforming people.

As trans artists who mobilize hybrid methods of aesthetic inquiry that strategically cross artistic, activist, and academic lines, Joynt and Vargas together call attention to the impact of archives and archival practices in the production of both historical pasts and aesthetic futures.

The audience is invited to join us for conversation, snacks and cocktails following the event.

Framing Agnes (2018)

In the late 1950s, a woman named Agnes approached the UCLA Medical Center seeking sex reassignment surgery. Her story was long considered to be exceptional and singular until never-before-seen case files of other patients were found in 2017. Framing Agnes features preeminent trans culture-makers breathing new life into those who redefined gender in the midcentury.

Starring Zackary Drucker (She Gone Rogue, Transparent), Angelica Ross (Pose, HerStory), Silas Howard (By Hook or By Crook, A Kid Like Jake), and Max Wolf Valerio (Max, The Testosterone Files).

Watch the trailer!


VIVO Media Arts Centre
2625 Kaslo St.

Chris E. Vargas is a video maker & interdisciplinary artist currently based in Bellingham, WA. He earned his MFA in the department of Art Practice from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2011. With Eric Stanley, Vargas co-directed the movie Homotopia (2006) and its feature-length sequel Criminal Queers (2015) which have been screened at Palais de Tokyo, LACE, Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow, and the New Museum among other venues. Vargas is also the Executive Director of the Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art (MOTHA), an arts & hirstory institution highlighting the contributions of trans art to the cultural and political landscape. He is currently a Professor & Instructor at Western Washington University.

Chase Joynt is an internationally award-winning filmmaker and writer. His latest two films Genderize and Between You and Me are distributed online by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. His first book, You Only Live Twice (co-authored with Mike Hoolboom), is a 2017 Lambda Literary Award Finalist and named one of the Best Books of 2016 by The Globe and Mail and CBC. His second book, Conceptualizing Agnes: Exemplary Cases and the Disciplines of Gender (co-authored with Kristen Schilt) is under contract with Duke University Press. Chase is currently a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago.

The Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art (MOTHA), was founded in 2013, with the mission of bringing a cohesive visual history of transgender culture into existence. In doing so, the museum asks us to think critically about what transgender visual history would look like, how it should be organized, and if it is even possible to compile such a history around an identity category that is relatively new, still evolving, and often contested. MOTHA also critically interrogates contemporary arts institutionalization and developments within museum practices, with an eye to transgender artists' relationship to them. MOTHA is an imaginary museum. While it is forever under construction, it takes the form of temporary autonomous events, including performances, exhibitions, panel discussions, public programs, and other occasions that envision the existence of a legitimate and legitimizing arts and history institution dedicated to the cultural work of trans artists, hirstorians, and scholars.

Cait McKinney is Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University, the author of Information Activism: A Queer History of Lesbian Media Technologies (Duke, 2020) and co-editor of Inside Killjoy’s Kastle: Dykey Ghosts, Feminist Monsters, and other Lesbian Hauntings (UBC Press and AGYU Press, 2019).

We acknowledge the generous support of the Sexuality Studies Association (SSA) as a part of Congress 2019: Humanities and Social Sciences.


Cait McKinney

The Anti-Archive as Trans Archival Future, February 2020

The Anti-Archive as Trans Archival Future

“What Vargas’s and Joynt’s work asks us to reconsider is the ways that trans lives resist capture within these frameworks even as they take up prominence within community archives, university collections, and museums. In other words, Vargas and Joynt are both keepers of archives who want to leave open their anti-archivalness. This does not mean abandoning archives altogether, but rather having them differently, provisionally, without guarantees.”

– Excerpt from Cait McKinney's "Trans Archival Future"

Full Response (PDF):

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Chris E. Vargas

June 2019

Full slide show from the event (PDF):

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