Asia Art Archive in America presented a public program that delves into gaps within national archives and their impact on Pakistan’s nation-state identity, particularly in relation to Partition histories of the country. Through selected records from the National College of Arts Archives in Lahore, Pakistan, Doa Sarmad Khan, head of the NCA Archives shed light on issues and topics that are often overlooked within institutional and colonial repositories. Brooklyn-based artist Umber Majeed presented family collections of analog photography as part of her own artistic interventions that explore the Pakistani-American Diaspora and the notion of nation-building.
While exploring alternative sources and interpretations of history, with an emphasis on post-colonial perspectives, this program addressed the challenges unique to South Asian archives, such as bureaucratic hurdles, climate change, and funding issues. Following the presentation, Majeed joined Khan for a conversation to discuss the role of archives in shaping history and the potential for creative interventions to challenge and expand our understanding of the past.
Umber Majeed (b. New York, 1989) is a multidisciplinary visual artist and educator. She received her MFA from Parsons the New School for Design in 2016 and graduated from Beaconhouse National University in Lahore, Pakistan in 2013. Her writing, performance, and animation work engage with familial archives to explore Pakistani state, urban, and digital infrastructure through a feminist lens.
Doa Sarmad Khan has been managing the NCA Archives since early 2021. After training as an architect at the National College of Arts, Lahore, she obtained an MA in Conservation Studies from the University of York where her research explored digital tools and methods for reconnecting South Asian cultural heritage at the digital turn. This MA was generously funded by the Barakat Trust through the Barakat International Studentship 2019, and the Vice Chancellor’s Postgraduate Scholarship from the University of York. Her current interests include semantic data modeling, digital preservation and dissemination, and the democratization and digitalization of cultural heritage and research infrastructures.
The National College of Arts Archives are the repository of non-current records of the National College of Arts, Lahore, with records dating from the time of the Mayo School of Arts to the present day. The NCA Archives are a particularly valuable resource for the study of colonial education, the evolution of art and design education and sensibilities in British Punjab, the development of Pakistani art in the 20th century, and the history of the National College of Arts itself. To access our collections consisting of correspondence, rare books and portfolios, administrative documents, etc. please email firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain a copy of the list of holdings and access request form.
The Complete Picture: Archives in Pakistan is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.