On Saturday, October 31, 1970, a “Witch In” was held at 1 pm in Central Park, organised by out witch and member of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), Leo Louis Martello. In his W.I.C.A. newsletter a month later Martello estimated around a thousand people attended to light candles, cast a magic circle, sing and dance together. For Martello, this gathering combined the activism he had learned working with the red-hot, newly-formed and soon to dissolve GLF, his lifelong spiritual path as a pagan, and his playful sense of rebellion. Taking Martello’s “Witch In” as a point of entry into a scattered paper trail both into and outside of institutional archives, this lecture will consider the wide, wild scene of gay witches in New York in the 1970s, and the influence of pagan spirituality upon their prolific art and activism. Finally, by considering the friendships, love affairs, and highly charged emotions underwriting the survival of these items, we will reflect on the demands that these spells, stories, and archival remains make upon those of us who encounter them. What might it mean to recover queer magic and enchantment from the archives? And as the material history of countercultural and liberatory movements continues to be accrued within institutional settings, how might these materials shape new ways of working in the future?
Tuesday, April 4th, 6pm
NYU Bobst Library, 8th floor North Reading Room
Brooke Palmieri is an artist, writer, and educator working at the intersection of memory, history, and gender-bending alternate realities. In 2018 they founded CAMP BOOKS ( http://campbooks.biz), a platform and travelling bookshop promoting access to queer history through cheap prints and zines; workshops and installations; and the collaborative construction of archives related to LGBTQIA+ activism and the long history of gender non-conformity. Their writing has recently been featured in Louche Magazine and anthologies by Pilot Press, and their work has been exhibited at Gaada, the Glasgow Women’s Library, The Bower, and Chelsea Space.