Archival Alchemy @ Abrons
Archival Alchemy: SAWCC 20th Anniversary Exhibition
April 6 - May 14, 2017
@ Abrons Arts Center, NY
Archives are often cast as places of nostalgia; institutions for anchoring flights of fancy with the hard reassurance of facts; repositories for reinforcing “History,” capital “H” singular “y.” But those who take issue with the historical narratives that these archives traditionally upheld also find them productive resources for contesting the very stability, veracity and singularity that they once seemed to ensure. Countering a dominant linear logic, artists, especially those from diasporic and postcolonial positions, are critically positioned to work their magic on archival fodder—rich with mutable, malleable material that can remixed to new ends.
"Archival Alchemy" is the 20th Anniversary exhibition presented by the South Asian Women's Creative Collective, a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to the advancement, visibility, and development of emerging and established South Asian women or gender non-conforming artists and creative professionals across disciplines. I have the honor of guest curating this year's edition at the historic Abrons Arts Center on New York's Lower East Side.
The selected artists are working with literal archival materials, elements layered with personal and cultural memory, or ideological fragments from the past in ways that creatively reformulate meanings, identities, and historical and future possibilities. Works on work-on-paper, sculpture, installation, photography, video, participatory and digital projects from artists working across the South Asian diaspora will be on view.
Participating Artists: Golnar Adili; Marium Agha; Blank Noise (Jasmeen Patheja and fellow Action Heroes: Sapna, Anon, Freshly Divorced, Unrelentless Furiosa); Priyanka Dasgupta; Sabba Elahi; Index of the Disappeared (Chitra Ganesh & Mariam Ghani); Amy Khoshbin; Maya Mackrandilal; Zinnia Naqvi; Yamini Nayar; Nirmal Raja; Patience Rustomji; Himali Singh Soin
On May 7, an afternoon of discussion, strategy sharing and art-activations expanded on these themes with participation from: Priyanka Dasgupta, Heather Hart (Black Lunch Table), Action Heroes Kat Frances Lieder & Bedatri (Blank Noise), Sue Jeong Ka, Baseera Khan, Amy Khoshbin, Jaret Vadera (Art+Community)
Holland Cotter, "10 Galleries to Visit Now on the Lower East Side," NYT, April 27, 2017
Osman Can Yerebakan, "In Pursuit of the Day: Archival Alchemy at Abrons Arts Center," Filthy Dreams, May 10, 2017
(Image Credit: Chitra Ganesh+Mariam Ghani, Index of the Disappeared: Parasitic Archive, vinyl cling, 66 x 35 inches, installed at NYU’s Kevorkian Center, 2014.)