Archive as Verb: Asia Art Archive’s Projects in India
September 10, 2013
Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU
8 Washington Mews
New York, NY
‘In the context of Asia with its specific conditions of weak knowledge infrastructure (but also physical infrastructure, in many cases) we have to think of archive as a verb, as well as a noun. To think about what we can enable, and not just what we have or even what we can do.’ —Hammad Nasar, Asia Art Archive Head of Research and Programmes
Through collecting and making information on the recent history of contemporary art in Asia easily accessible, the Hong Kong-based Asia Art Archive (AAA) enables research and scholarship that allow for enriching and rethinking existing global narratives, and re-imagining the role of the archive.
This evening of discussion and networking allowed for a unique and intimate public forum with Hammad Nasar, AAA Head of Research and Programmes, and Sabih Ahmad, AAA Senior Researcher. They presented and discuss the Archive’s research initiatives and projects in India, which included the 2010 digitization of the personal archive of Geeta Kapur and Vivan Sundaram and the current digitization project of the personal archives of four important scholars in Baroda—Professors K G Subramanyan, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Ratan Parimoo, and Jyoti Bhatt. AAA was also compiling an extensive bibliography of art writing in India since the late 19th century, across multiple languages.
Nasar and Sabih was joined by Jane DeBevoise, AAA Chair of the Board of Directors, and Marvin Taylor, Director of NYU Fales Library and Special Collections, for a panel discussion and Q&A moderated by Alexandra Chang, A/P/A’s Curator of Special Projects and Director of Global Arts Programs.
About Asia Art Archive (AAA)
AAA is an independent, non-profit organization based in Hong Kong with an international Board of Directors, and an Advisory Board made up of noted curators and critics. Over the last 13 years, AAA has built one of the world’s leading public collections of primary and secondary source material on contemporary art in Asia. Built of 80% donated material, the collection now holds over 41,000 records, comprised of hundreds of thousands of physical and digital items, and it continues to grow. Accessible free of charge from AAA’s physical space and searchable from anywhere in the world via the online catalogue, much of the collection is now also available globally via AAA’s digital platform–Collection Online.
About the speakers
Hammad Nasar is Head of Research and Programmes at Asia Art Archive, and moved to Hong Kong to take up this post in September 2012. Earlier, he co-founded and was curatorial director of the London-based arts organization Green Cardamom. He was a Fellow of the Clore Leadership Programme, Research Fellow at Goldsmiths College, and London and Arts Director for the UK’s Festival of Muslim Cultures (2006-7). Selected projects he has curated/co-curated include: ‘Karkhana: A Contemporary Collaboration’ at Aldrich Contemporary, Ridgefield, CT and the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco (2005-7); ‘Safavids Revisited’ at the British Museum (2009); ‘Where Three Dreams Cross: 150 Years of Photography from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh’ at the Whitechapel Gallery, London (2010); ‘Beyond the Page: Miniature as Attitude in Contemporary Art from Pakistan’ at the Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, CA (2010); and ‘Lines of Control: Partition as a Productive Space’ at the Johnson Museum at Cornell University (2012) which opens at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University on September 19, 2013. Prior to entering the art world, Nasar worked as a management consultant and banker.
Sabih Mohd Ahmed is a Senior Researcher at AAA, and has been a member of Asia Art Archive’s Research+ team since 2009. Stationed in New Delhi, he has overseen the Archive’s digitization projects in the country alongside other research initiatives. Ahmad completed the interdisciplinary MA program at the School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi in 2009, and has organized and participated in numerous conferences and workshops internationally.
Jane DeBevoise is Chair of the Board of Directors of Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong and Asia Art Archive in America, the New York-based mini-hub of Asia Art Archive Hong Kong. Prior to moving to Hong Kong in 2002, DeBevoise was Deputy Director of the Guggenheim Museum, responsible for museum operations and exhibitions globally. She joined the Museum in 1996 as Project Director of ‘China: 5000 Years,’ a large scale exhibition of traditional and modern Chinese art that was presented in 1998 at the Guggenheim museums in New York and Bilbao. DeBevoise has an MA from University of California, Berkeley and a PhD from The University of Hong Kong, both in Chinese art history. She was appointed by the Home Affairs Bureau of the Hong Kong Government to the Committee for Museums 2004-2007 and to the Museums Advisory Group for the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District 2006-2007. She is a Trustee of Asian Cultural Council.
Marvin J Taylor, Director of the Fales Library and Special Collections, holds a BA in Comparative Literature, an MLS from Indiana University, and an MA in English from NYU. He has held positions at the Lilly Library at Indiana University and Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library and Health Sciences Library. He has been at the Fales Library since 1993. In 1994, Taylor founded the Downtown Collection, which contains over 12,000 printed books and 15,000 linear feet of manuscripts and archives. He was editor of The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene, 1974-1984 (Princeton University Press, 2006) and co-curator of the exhibition The Downtown Show: The New York Art Scene, 1974-1984. He has overseen numerous grants from the NEA, NY State Council on the Arts, National Film Preservation Foundation, and private foundations including the Delmas, Goldstein, Ruben, and Mellon foundations.
Alexandra Chang is Curator for Special Projects & Director of Global Arts Programs at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU. She is also Director of the ongoing Global Asia/Pacific Art Exchange. Chang is co-organizer for the inter-institutional East Coast Asian American Art Project and the Virtual Asian American Art Museum Project. She serves as co-organizer for the Diasporic Asian Art Network and sits on the executive committee of the International Network for Diasporic Asian Art Research. She is the author of Envisioning Diaspora: Asian American Visual Arts Collectives from Godzilla, Godzookie to the Barnstormers (2009).
This evening’s event is part of the A/P/A Institute’s NYU Global Asia/Pacific Art Exchange initiatives and was organized in conjunction with Asia Art Archive in America.