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Nils Meyn
Doctoral candidate, third cohort (2023-2026)

Video Cassettes, Sexual Cultures, and Queer Archival Tactics

The video cassette has long since become a symbol of (audiovisual) queer history and its archiving, not least because it is the predominant moving image format in the film collections of many queer archives and collections. Using the video collection of the Schwules Museum in Berlin as an example, the dissertation traces that historiographical significance of the video cassette within two of its most paradigmatic domains: pornography and AIDS activism. Building on queer archival and affect theories as well as Lucas Hilderbrand’s reflections on the error-prone “aesthetics of access”[1] of analogue video, the project rethinks the subject of videotape in the direction of Porn Studies. The focus is, first, on questions of circulation using the example of safer sex porn films and gay video porn networks; second, on informal archival practices of collecting, compiling, and indexing in the case of television recordings and porn bootlegs; and third, on methods of making video cassette histories accessible.


[1] Lucas Hilderbrand: Inherent Vice. Bootleg Histories of Videotape and Copyright, Durham: Duke University Press, 2009.

Fig. 1:
Dream Tapes project by Hazel Meyer for the exhibition Tape Condition: degraded (2016) , photo: Toni Hafkensheid.
Fig. 2:
Screenshot from Gay TV (Wieland Speck, Germany 1989), digitised from VHS.
Fig. 3:
VHS compilation of tv recordings with attached index card from the Schwules Museum collection, photographed by author.


Nils Meyn is a PhD candidate and research associate in the graduate research program “Configurations of Film” at the Goethe University Frankfurt and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. They studied Multimedia Production at the University of Applied Sciences Kiel before completing the Master’s program Film Culture: Archiving, Programming, Presentation at the Goethe University Frankfurt in cooperation with the DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum. They received a research proposal scholarship from the Gutenberg Graduate School of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Mainz. They are researching and volunteering at the Schwules Museum in Berlin, where they co-facilitate archive workshops on the museum’s porn film collection. Their research interests include queer & gender studies, feminist archival theories, porn studies, media cultures of collecting.