Gut Feelings Meri JaanTouchstones Rochdale, commissioned by UP Projects2021As with so many public archives and collections, the voices of migrant communities have historically been marginalised and misrepresented in social narratives and interpretations of cultural heritage — the archive at Touchstones is no exception.A group of women and gender non-conforming people from Rochdale’s Pakistani, Bengali and Punjabi communities were invited by Jasleen Kaur to join her in a series of online conversations examining and responding to the contents of the local history archives at Touchstones asking “What do we find when we go looking for ourselves in the archive …how can we alter the course of history through a new script?” Kaur and the group interrogated how our cultural memory is preserved, exploring ideas around inheritance and belonging, land and migration, ritual and healing. ‘Gut Feelings Meri Jaan’ is the result of this collaborative process, culminating in a book and a series of films which meddle with traditional archival approaches.
The films re-mix customs preserved by group members, performed at local sites bound up in histories of Empire and post-war migration from former colonies. Members of the resulting diasporas wash the statue of an industrialist with handfuls of yoghurt — living culture — the same thick, tart, dhai served alongside biryani that has properties to heal the gut, where trauma is stored. The human body, a living archive and carrier of histories consumes and digests historical documents, processing this knowledge anew.The single edition book documents extracts from the group’s conversations that momentarily offer new classifications and missing voices. Printed on seed paper, the book will be read aloud and planted at Deeplish community centre during the exhibition, where the seeds can take root and become a living legacy for the future. Evolving from Institution to soil, ‘Gut Feelings Meri Jaan’ resists any archival logic or formal framework. 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 under new scrutiny.
‘Gut Feelings Meri Jaan’ by Jasleen Kaur is commissioned by UP Projects in partnership with Touchstones Rochdale.
Project Collaborators: Alina Akbar, Nasrine Akhtar, Rizwana Ali, Shakra Butt, Rahela Khan, Bushra Sultana
Commissions Curator (UP Projects): Lucy Shanahan
Project Manager (Touchstones Rochdale): Bryan Beresford
Cinematography: Alina Akbar
Sound: Zane Crowther, Maneeta Talwar
Exhibition Installation: Paul Grant
Graphic Design: Plan B Creative Studio
Book Binding: Plaintiff Press
Translation: Sabeen Shahid Rehmani, Anam Ali Bhatti
Transcription: Radha Patel
Special thanks to: Sohail Ahmad, Lisa Allen, Charlie Booth, Elisabeth Del Prete, Mark Doyle, Lizzie Graham, Jos Lancaster, Sally Lancaster, Samina Latif, Ian McIntyre, Jack Morrison, Jack Newbury, Helen Nesbit, Kate Phillimore, Nargis Rashid, Uroosa Rashid, Shafaq Sehnam, Niamh Sullivan, Alan Ward, Alice Withers, Emma Underhill, Sameena Zaheer, Azar Zouk, Mariam Zulfiqar
This commission is generously funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Foyle Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Rochdale Borough Council and Arts Council England.