23 October 2021 – 13 February 2022
The Local History archive held at Touchstones is a valued resource for the people of Rochdale, but the voices of migrant communities have historically been marginalised and misrepresented.
Gut Feelings Meri Jaan is a new series of artworks by artist Jasleen Kaur in collaboration with a group of local women and those who identify as gender non-conforming, who bring into question formal systems of remembrance and meddle with the archive: ’What do we find when we go looking for ourselves in the archive…how are we remembered…how can we alter the course of history through a new script?’
Working closely together, Kaur and the group from Rochdale’s South Asian community interrogate how notions of cultural heritage are preserved and consider the human body as a living archive and carrier of histories. Through online gatherings and conversations held by Kaur, the group were invited to critique the contents of the Ethnic Minorities section of the Local History archive at Touchstones. Together they explored ideas around inheritance and belonging, land and migration, tradition and ritual, representation and legacy, trauma and healing practices. The resulting works in the exhibition subvert and transform authenticated histories held within the archive to intervene in the narrative of Rochdale’s cultural memory.
In the film installation, re-mixed customs and rituals preserved by group members and their families are performed in specific locations in and around Rochdale, including Touchstones, the town centre, Pakeeza yoghurt factory and the region’s rural landscape. The films articulate testimonies and reimagined remedies while pointing to the post-industrial landscape and histories of migration from ex-colonies such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and India to name a few, and the tens of thousands of people who arrived in Britain to fill the severe labour shortage following the Second World War.
During the exhibition, knowledge gathered through the project continues to evolve, moving from institution to community, refusing archival logic. What would be gazed at or read becomes digested or buried bringing the past, present and future of the archive and the power it holds into scrutiny.
Gut Feelings Meri Jaan is commissioned by UP Projects in partnership with Touchstones Rochdale.
This commission is generously funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Foyle Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Rochdale Borough Council and Arts Council England.