Nicole Archer

Assistant Professor in the History and Theory of Contemporary Art
San Francisco Art Institute
Appointment Dates:
(Aug 16, 2017 – May 11, 2018)
Research Project:
Take Cover: Art, Materiality, and the War on Terror
Textiles are ubiquitous, from cradle to grave—modern subjects are wrapped in their folds. Many confuse this material’s ubiquity with a sense of benign comfort, and subsequently ignore the violent political possibilities produced through the textile’s inescapable presence in contemporary life. My current book-length project, Take Cover: Art, Materiality, and the War on Terror, proceeds from the idea that this confusion is powerfully aided by the way textiles (and the varied objects wrought from their yardages) are gendered, or how the textile’s ‘feminine qualities’ strategically mask the rather instrumental role that this material plays in producing the modern security state.  This project takes the War on Terror as its primary case study, and focuses on how the textile — a key medium of comfort — has been literally and figuratively altered throughout this War to produce a gnawing sense of anxiety and fear, and to justify a host of unprecedented state actions. It brings a range of quotidian, legal, and artistic practices into critical conversation with one another via their respective mobilizations of key textiles (the security blanket, flag, uniform, and hood), to develop an understanding of how certain material logics underwrite the production and maintenance of what separates ‘illegitimate’ and ‘legitimate’ forms of state violence.
Nicole Archer researches contemporary art and material culture, with an emphasis in modern textile and garment histories. Further interests include critical and psychoanalytic theory, corporeal feminism, and performance studies. Currently, she serves an Assistant Professor in the History and Theory of Contemporary Art at the San Francisco Art Institute, where her teaching explores politics and aesthetics through close examinations of style, embodiment, and desire. Her work has been published by Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture, Art Practical, and SFAQ. Nicole has also contributed writing to varied gallery catalogs and books, including the New Museum and MIT Press’ latest installment of the Critical Anthologies in Art and Culture series, Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (Eds. Reina Gossett, Eric A. Stanley, Johanna Burton).