A further sea
Madeline Blair (aka Adelaide Andrews, aka “Jackie”, aka “Blackie”) was a stowaway on the Battleship Arizona in 1924 who managed to avoid being found for five weeks as the ship sailed from the Hudson River to Panama. Conflicting reports from newspaper stories, tabloid features, and court documents describe her as a prostitute, as a young spirited flapper with the moxie and wit to stow away on a Navy battleship, or as a co-conspirator with the sailors who helped hide and feed her.
Even though they are referred to repeatedly and catalogued as evidence, photographs of Madeline are missing from the sailors’ court martial files in the National Archives. In response to this absence, we created a speculative archive for Madeline of over 200 vintage photographs,127 cataloged newspaper articles, and various ephemera, found and sourced through online archives, catalogs, auctions, and collections. In addition designed, re-imagined, or adapted historical objects act as narrative devices for the stories that surround Madeline’s journey.
Non-normative stories like Madeline’s that exist along the margins of official narratives are often complicated by rumors, sensational reporting, and contradictory voices. These elements, often antithetical to the objectives of a history museum, require experimental forms to convey their precarious, yet insistent, relationship to history and the complexity of human experience.
About the institute for Inverted Histories
The institute for Inverted histories (also known as iIh) works at the intersections of art, design, politics, media, and cultural studies to produce objects and experiences that acknowledge and revel in mysteries among the material traces of history. Through humor, subversion, parafiction, gender-bending, and media archeology, iIh collects and reconfigures pieces of the historical media landscape. Projects and publications highlight contradictory traces left by deceptively familiar stories, making them unfamiliar through subversion, juxtaposition, or voracious collecting in the face of an artificially normalized curation of the past. The absurdity of the authority of a single voice or narrative is amplified, along with the necessity of fiction, skepticism and play in the landscape of history. The institute for Inverted histories was established in 2015 and is a collaboration between Rebecca Sittler and Anastasiia Raina.