Archive Creation Residency
This artist residency at Rungh has been a journey back into my own development as an artist and the parallel and intertwined development of a revolutionary South Asian Canadian arts community. 30+ years of arts, activism, and rigorous inquiry and analysis. Our intergenerational group of four artists has been looking backwards and forwards, as these vital shifts to the landscape of Canadian art are still underfoot. 30 years later, it’s sobering to see that many of the conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion are still the same and that significant decolonization efforts have resulted in glacial change, but I am inspired by the groundwork that has been built by my elders and peers, and upon which the next generations can continue to build.
The framework for our residency is inspired by Rungh’s Roots publication, Volume 2, No. 1 & 2 (July 1993). It frames my own artistic goals of producing art within community. A community that is intersectional, widespread, and critical to my understanding of myself as an artist over the years. I have always been searching for roots, and it’s taken time to realize that I, and we, were planting communal seeds.
Being a part of Rungh’s Archive Creation Residency has been an important experience of artistic community building for me. In digging through the Rungh archive there is so much inspiration, deep reflection and relevant questions for artists and communities today. This is an archive that needs to be shared and discussed. Through rich conversations with artists Serena Bandar, Shelly Bahl and Zinnia Naqvi and Rungh director Zool Suleman, I have been moved by the depth of inquiry and praxis documented in the Rungh archive. I have also felt part of something bigger and less alone.
The process of this residency has been key in helping me to remember that the work I do and my experience as a racialized artist is not mine alone. Over the course of this residency, I have had the opportunity to hear other artists' experiences of working in the art world, with their struggles and joys of working through content about family, identity, and their different locations within communities. This has been very affirming. I have appreciated the intergenerational age range of the artist team.We remarked again and again that so many of the issues covered in early issues of Rungh magazine were so topical, even though they were published 30 years ago. A lot has changed and a lot hasn’t. What this residency has done for me is to help me locate myself within something bigger. Being with Zinnia, Serena, Shelly and Zool over this past year has reminded me of the power of artistic communities and spaces that bring us together to remember, share and create.