How can archives hold collective histories? Can archive-building be a collective process? This conversation brings together members of Malaysia Design Archive (Malaysia) and Northeast Lightbox (India) to discuss the necessity of working with communities across disciplines and knowledge systems in order to narrate the nuanced histories of their contexts.
Jac sm Kee, Ezrena Marwan, and Simon Soon of Malaysia Design Archive discuss their project to map the development of graphic design in Malaysia, from the period before independence (1957) to the present. They emphasise their efforts to build resources and a space to share histories and vocabularies that challenge dominant state and colonial narratives.
Devadeep Gupta, Hrishikesh Chowdhury, and Anidrita Saikia of Northeast Lightbox elaborate on their investment in the local archival material of Northeast India. Their process explores the potential for archival material to be regarded as contemporary art, while examining how archives can spark critical reflection by shedding insight on non-mainstream narratives. Northeast Lightbox has engaged with the civic archives of North East Network, a women’s rights organisation, through modes of artistic practice since 2017.
This talk is part of Inter-Archives Conversations and is organised in conjunction with The Collective School. Initiated by Asia Art Archive in India, Inter-Archives Conversations is a platform that explores forms, infrastructures, and the instituting of archives in South Asia, ensuring that less visible and more diverse histories, in particular those neglected by state institutions, are documented and made accessible to publics. The Collective School investigates artist-driven and collective models of learning. Developed in collaboration with Gudskul, The Collective School asks: How do artists learn from their peers in a collective? What makes collectivity necessary for survival today? How do collectives remain adaptive and relevant to their respective contexts?
This event is free of charge and open to public with registration.
Anidrita Saikia is currently an MPhil research scholar in the Department of History at Delhi University. An artist and jewellery designer, her fields of interest span film, literature, and art, explored through the larger contours of history and colonialism.
Devadeep Gupta is a visual artist and filmmaker based out of Guwahati, Assam. His practice knits together lens-based media, installation, and collaborative performance through concurrent narratives.
Ezrena Marwan is a member of Malaysia Design Archive. Through this platform, she encourages discourse on the role of graphic design in nation-building and national identity. Marwan is a graphic designer passionate about women’s rights, history, and design. Her work upholds the “First Things First” Design Manifesto (1964) that calls for “a reversal of consumerism and profit driven priorities in favour of more useful, lasting, and democratic forms of communications.”
Hrishikesh Chowdhury is a photographer based out of Guwahati, Assam. With a background in social work, his interest lies in exploring regional micro-histories, society, and urban forms and systems. He primarily works with photography and archival material as the medium of his practice.
Jac sm Kee is a feminist activist, writer, and researcher, as well as a member of Malaysia Design Archive. She is also a Co-Director for the Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia, a non-profit organisation working on issues of media freedom and the right to freedom of expression and information towards a just, free, and democratic society. Kee is the Co-Creator of Numun Fund, the first grant-making fund dedicated to sustaining feminist technology in and from the Global South.
Simon Soon is a researcher and senior lecturer in the Visual Art Department of the Cultural Centre, University of Malaya. Soon joined Malaysia Design Archive in 2016. He completed a PhD in Art History at the University of Sydney under an Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship. His thesis, “What is Left of Art?” investigates the spatial-visual cultures at the intersection between left-leaning politicised art movements and the emergent modern publics of Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines from the 1950s to 1970s. Soon is also an editorial member of Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art, a peer-reviewed journal published by NUS Press.
Moderator: Samira Bose, Programmes Coordinator, Asia Art Archive in India
The Collective School is generously supported by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, as well as Wendy Lee & Stephen Li, and Virginia & Wellington Yee.
Hong Kong Arts Development Council fully supports freedom of artistic expression. The views and opinions expressed in this project do not represent the stand of the Council.