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.
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)
(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.)
Chitra Ganesh: Eyes of Time
Exploring ideas of femininity, empowerment, and multiplicity, Brooklyn-based artist Chitra Ganesh draws inspiration from the Museum’s encyclopedic collection, including representations of the goddess Kali, to create a site-specific multimedia installation for the Herstory Gallery.
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum, NY, December 2014 - July 2015
This co-curated experimental group exhibition paired historic moments in activist art with contemporary art seeking to affect social change. The contemporary projects are installed in three waves, the first of which was chosen by the Sackler Center curatorial team, and the second and third installations featuring artists invited by those with projects in each proceeding wave.
Co-curated with Catherine J. Morris, Sackler Family Curator: Stephanie Weissberg, Curatorial Assistant; and Jess Wilcox, former Programs Coordinator.
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum, NY, December 2015 - August 2016
Chicago in L.A.: Judy Chicago’s Early Work 1963–74
Chicago in L.A.: Judy Chicago’s Early Work 1963–74, the first survey on the East Coast of the artist’s early career brings together more than fifty-five objects featuring Chicago’s Minimalist sculpture alongside her Female Rejection Series, her large-scale paintings, and documentation of her environments and performances. The exhibition places this early material within the arc of Chicago’s broader production and continues the reappraisal of the artist’s importance as a pioneer in the California art scene.
Chicago in L.A. was organized by Catherine Morris, Sackler Family Curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum, with Assistant Curator Saisha Grayson.
Over the past fifteen years, Wangechi Mutu has emerged as one of the most inventive and sophisticated artists of her generation, using her distinctive voice to tackle vital issues such as globalization, colonialism, and cultural constructions of the female body. The first survey in the United States for this multidisciplinary artist, Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey featured more than 50 works from the mid-1990s to the present, including her signature large-scale collages alongside new video work, sculptures, site-specific installations, and never-before-seen sketchbook drawings.
Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey was organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University by Trevor Schoonmaker, Chief Curator and Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of Contemporary Art. The Brooklyn Museum presentation was coordinated by Saisha Grayson, Assistant Curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum.
Hayal Pozanti's US premiere, curated as a pop-up installation in an underground music venue that emphasized the otherworldly mythology of her graphic narratives and site-specific mural.
Santo's Party House, NY
Peter Jay - Social Networking
The second curatorial project for the Gallery at Mansion was a multi-media installation, featuring photography, video and audioscapes by Peter Jay, meditating on social formations among animals and humans in the digital age.
The Gallery at Mansion, NY
Jennifer Maeve - The Percipient Eye
Opening of first curatorial project for the Gallery at Mansion, featuring Jennifer Maeves' beautiful, sensual photography.