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REPOhistory Archive

Call Number



1911-1999, inclusive
; 1989-1999, bulk


REPOhistory (Organization)


18 Linear Feet
in 18 boxes

Language of Materials

Materials are in English


The group, REPOhistory, was founded in New York City in 1989 and included multi-ethnic visual and performance artists, writers, filmmakers, and historians. Taking its name from the concept of "repossessing history," its purpose was to bring to light absent historical narratives involving, colonialism, race, gender, and class through public installations, performances, educational activities, printed matter and other visual media. The collection includes operation records, proofs of original artworks, promotional materials, source materials, and files of several founding members.

Historical Note

REPOhistory was a multi-ethnic group of visual and performance artists, writers, filmmakers, and historians, founded in New York City in 1989. The group took its name from the concept of "repossessing history." Its purpose was to retrieve, relocate and document absent historical narratives at specific sites in New York City, through public installations, performances, educational activities, printed matter and other visual media. REPOhistory sought to question how history is constructed and insert the stories of peoples and events which have been omitted. Their work addressed historical issues of colonialism, race, gender, and class in a context relevant to current histories.

REPOhistory operated as an artist/scholar cooperative through 6 major public projects and many smaller events. Believing the arts essential to shaping a collective cultural identity and the relationship between art, culture and society to be confused, it instigated a questioning of the culture of the 1980s and the early 1990s.


Folders are generally arranged chronologically within each subject/author heading.

The files are grouped into eight series.


  1. Series I: General Administration
  2. Series II: Projects
  3. Series III: Publicity and Promotion
  4. Series IV: Theoretical Material
  5. Series V: Members Files
  6. Series VI: Slides and Photos
  7. Series VII: Video, Audio and Electronic
  8. Series VIII: Artwork
  9. Series IX: Ephemera
  10. Accretion 2012 - Series VIII: Artwork

Scope and Content Note

The REPOhistory Archive is comprised of the correspondence, meeting minutes, proofs of original artworks, promotional materials, source materials, and files of several founding members. Also included are complete sets of signs (artworks) used for 3 of 6 REPOHistory site specific installations, Queer Spaces, The Lower Manhattan Sign Project, and Buttermilk Bottom. The archive also includes various slides and photos that document specific projects and those members involved. The REPOhistory Archive is a part of the Downtown Collection at the Fales Library, New York University. The Fales Library is the primary special collections division of the NYU libraries, housing 200,000 volumes of English and American literature from 1700 to the present. Strengths of the collection include the development of the English and American novel, with an emphasis on the Gothic and the Victorian novel. The Downtown Collection, of which the REPOhistory Archive is a part, documents through personal and organizational papers, the artistic and literary Downtown New York scene from ca. 1975 to the present. SERIES DESCRIPTION Series 1: General Administration:contains four boxes of REPO general administrative files. The order of this series is maintained in the order it was originally kept. The series includes general correspondence, financial statements, fundraising materials, and meeting minutes arranged alphabetically. Series 2: Projects, Exhibitions, and Panels:divided into subseries according to specific projects conceived by REPO, the subseries are arranged chronologically. Subseries: A The Lower Manhattan Sign Project, REPOHistory's inaugural project was inspired by the celebration surrounding the quincentennial of Columbus' "discovery" of the Americas. While the country planned to commemorate a carefully selected history of Columbus' legacy, REPOhistory created a project that presented alternative views of history.Subseries B: Choice Histories: Framing Abortion, was a 1991 gallery installation investigating the history of women's global struggle for reproductive rights.Subseries C: Queer Spaces, as part of REPOHistory's contribution to the Storefront for Art and Architecture's exhibition Queer Spaces, eight signs were placed at New York City sites where gays and lesbians gather for social and political purposes.Subseries D: Entering Buttermilk Bottom, honors the passing of a community destroyed by Urban Renewal to make room for Modern Atlanta and the "New South." This site-specific public art installation consisted of signs, street markings, and a pavilion installation that illustrated the history of the community, as well as a reunion of former residents.Subseries E: Voices of Renewal, following the 1995-96 project, Entering Buttermilk Bottom, this project represents the second phase of REPOhistory's public art/public history work in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward. This Public Art Residency project was a collaboration by REPO artist Tom Klem and residents of the Fourth Ward's Glen Iris neighborhood. Working directly with those who lived these histories, six artist-created public history markers were created and installed permanently on the private property of those residents whose histories were unveiled and celebrated.Subseries F: Out from Under the King George Hotel, for this project REPOHistory was invited to Houston, Texas, to create a public art project. They chose to document seven layers of history on the location of an abandoned hotel, the King George Hotel, which sat across the street from a homeless shelter and one block from the site of a new baseball stadium that was the cornerstone of the city's redevelopment plans for downtown Houston. Subseries G: Civil Disturbances, was a public art project that presented two sets of 20 street signs created by teams of artists working in collaboration with legal scholars for more than a year and a half. Subseries H: Circulation , an online project explores the city as body by examining the flow of blood through the city; blood as both a physical entity and as a metaphor for identity. The project can be viewed at Subseries I:documentation of related projects. Series 3: Publicity and Promotion:contains a box of materials that relates to publicity and the promotion of REPO and their respective projects. It includes press packets and literature as well as reviews and articles of their work. Series 4: Theoretical Material:contains a box of source materials used in researching specific projects. It includes articles and readings. Series 5: Members Files:contains files of core members such as Ed Eisenberg, Greg Sholette, Tom Klem, and Jim Costanzo. Fales has maintained the integrity of the order in which these members kept their files. Series 6: Slides and photos:contains slides and photos that document projects and events of REPOhistory. These photos are contained in box 14, and slides reside in three photo boxes numbered 15, 16, and 17. Series 7: Video, Audio, and Electronic:includes videorecordings, audiorecordings and magnetic [computer] disks. The videotapes and audiotapes include interviews and some source material used in researching projects. The magnetic disks belonged to members of REPO and include templates and files that relate to specific projects. Series 8: Artwork:includes complete sets of signs produced for site-specific art installations.

Access Restrictions

Materials are open to researchers. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596.

Use Restrictions

Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); The REPOhistory Archive; MSS 113; box number; folder number; Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University Libraries.


The REPOhistory Archive was donated by REPOhistory in 2000. The initial organization of the collection was done by REPOhistory staff as they packed the materials for shipment. The collection was subsequently processed by members Alan Moore and Jim Costanzo. In 2012, Fales received metal sign mounts used to exhibit 5 signs from the Lower Manhattan Sign Project as part of an exhibition at 41 Cooper Gallery, Cooper Union.

Separated Material

There is no information about materials that are associated by provenance to the described materials that have been physically separated or removed.

Collection processed by

Alan Moore, Jim Costanzo, and Koo Lee - 2001; Leif Sorensen, 2003. Updated by Nicholas Martin, 2012

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2024-02-06 14:12:11 -0500.
Language: Description is in English.

Revisions to this Guide

December 2017: Updated by Megan O'Shea to prepare artwork being sent to offsite art storage in December 2017

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from REPOfinaid.doc


Fales Library and Special Collections
Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012