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Lisa Darms

May 30, 2013

Lisa Darms

If you’ve followed 12?s at all over the last two years, you know we love libraries and librarians, and we especially love librarians who are transforming the way libraries do what they do. So we’re thrilled to return to NYU’s Fales Library & Special Collections to introduce you all to Lisa Darms. Lisa is Senior Archivist at Fales, and founder of the Fales Riot Grrrl Collection. The Collection is an attempt to document the wildly diverse output of the Riot Grrrl movement as both a cultural and a political movement. From radical feminism to radical rock ‘n roll, queer theory to DIY culture, the collection has it all, including the papers of the legendary Kathleen Hanna! Like Fales’s groundbreaking Downtown Collection, the Riot Grrrl Collection is a pioneering archive, and Lisa is the visionary archivist behind it.

Lisa holds an MA in History and Archival Management from NYU, an MFA in Photography from the University of Washington, and a BA from the Evergreen State College. Before coming to archives she taught photography, worked as a custom photo printer, and was a member of the collaborative art group Thin Ice.

Her book The Riot Grrrl Collection will be published by the Feminist Press on June 1.

1. What is your hometown?

Victoria, British Columbia, although I was born on a tiny island north of there.

2. With what fictional character do you most identify?

I love memoirs, autobiographies and letters and some of my strongest “literary” identifications have been with real people, like Simone de Beauvoir in “Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter” and David Wojnarowicz in “Close to the Knives,” or with fictional characters that are easy to interchange with their authors, like Orville Pym from Denton Welch’s “In Youth Is Pleasure,” or Proust’s narrator.

3. In the movie of your life, cast an actor to play you.

Harold Lloyd

4. What work of art speaks to your soul?

I really love Jeff Wall’s “The Destroyed Room” and “Picture for Women” but I’m not positive it’s my soul they’re speaking to.

5. What books are you currently reading or recommending?

I just finished Nancy Mitford’s biographies of Louis IV, Voltaire and Emilie du Chatelet, and Madame de Pompadour. Although they are meticulously researched, Mitford allows herself to have very strong opinions: She dislikes some historical figures and adamantly defends others, and she relies on and spreads gossip. These are things that, as an archivist curating a collection and editing a book of historical documents, I have absolutely forbidden myself, but it’s fun to indulge in someone else’s subjectivity once in a while.

As for recommendations, I’m always trying to force my friends to read Raymond Queneau and Chris Kraus.

6. What song or album is currently in heavy rotation on your iPod?

Hey Man by Spacemen 3, which I’d like to be played at my funeral.

7. What’s the last movie that made you cry?

Probably Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

8. Cat person or dog person?


9. What is more important, truth or kindness?


10. How do you define sin?

Forgetting to be kind.

11. How do you define virtue?

Acting from kindness, toward yourself and others.

12. Design your headstone: What does it say? What does it look like?

“Early to Finish, I Was Late To Start”

Bonus Question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?

Virginie Despentes


The Riot Grrrl Collection

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