Zoe Leonard and Cheryl Dunye

We are instructed to look at Zoe Leonard and Cheryl Dunye’s collaborative project, The Fae Richards Photo Archive. The photographic narrative is about an African-American actress in the 1920’s named Fae Richards. What makes this project interesting is that Fae Richards is an entirely fictitious character. She is played by Cheryl Dunye and the narrative spans her entire “life”.  Leonard and Dunye’s objective with this fictitious narrative was to highlight the lack of information of the African-American lesbian community, as well as to question the truthfulness of our histories.  As the saying goes “To the victor the spoils” (and the right to rewrite history) which is very evident in my birth country of South Africa. The history that is now taught in the schools in South Africa is very different that which I learnt as a child. Who is included in our written histories rather depends on the ruling political party/regime or government of the day. Minorities and the defeated regimes tend to be written out of history in an attempt to wipe out any evidence of previous existence.

Repurposed narratives make us question the veracity of documented history and in so doing help to increase our understanding of the events.

I have a slew of my own photographic archives which could possibly be used in a project. I haven’t really given archives much thought previously to this assignment, but can see that it would be quite an interesting project to tackle.


Archives Creative Practice Zoe Leonard & Cheryl Dunye [online]. Birmingham City University. Available from: http://www.archivesandcreativepractice.com/zoe-leonard-cheryl-dunye/ [Accessed 7 March, 2016]


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