MayDay Rooms is dedicated to the collective activation of historical material. Through a variety of small-scale forums and research projects, developed around its collections, MDR aims to create dynamic situations – not to sit passively on archival ‘holdings’. By using the intrinsic socialising potential of historical material, we hope to allow the latencies of the past and the future to meet in an open field beyond the enclosures of official knowledge. What happens in that field cannot be predicted; it is up to those who gather around material to set it resonating.
One important condition for our work is that it occurs in the context of the life experiences of donors; their historical reflection and collective liaison with the many individuals and groups passing through MDR. Therefore, MDR invites depositors and participants alike to consider critically the archives entrusted to us – be that publicly, in events, or more privately, in informal sessions. This can open up unforeseen avenues, and singular areas of experience. ‘Opening boxes’ may bring unanticipated emotions, illustrate a surprising consistency of themes across material and open up previously undocumented tributaries and conjunctions.
To bring some structure to a potentially sprawling field, we have created four broad categories for our activity, namely Counterculture/Social Movements; Film; Countering Education; and Crisis/Emergencies. These will continue to guide our organisational development and conversations with depositors and donors.