As part of the public programme for Metabolic time / Am meitibileach video works from Jasleen Kaur’s Gut Feelings Meri Jaan will be screened online on Project’s website 30 March – 2 April.
Gut Feelings Meri Jaan and Jasleen’s artistic practice more widely speak to the themes of the exhibition in re-orientating a focus towards time accumulated through the body, through living cultures that physically and emotionally reside inside of us and the rituals and practices that contribute to one’s collective and individual healing. Some of the works stretch out these practices into meditations whilst others invite us to listen and consider the human body as a living archive processing memory, trauma and and notions of belonging.
As 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 The human body, a living archive and carrier of histories consumes and digests historical documents, processing this knowledge anew.
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.
Archive (66 mins – Open Captions)
Filmed in the archives of the Local Studies Centre at Touchstones, newspaper clippings and documents from the Ethnic Minorities collection, featuring reports and first-hand accounts of those who migrated from the Indian subcontinent and settled in Rochdale are read aloud and subsequently consumed and digested.
Farm (12 mins – Uncaptioned)
Walking barefoot through the verdant fields of a Lancashire farm and surrounded by cows, the group recite extracts from conversations they have shared about their lived experiences, feelings of belonging and the legacies that are transferred from one generation to the next. The human body represents a living archive and carrier of histories, both collectively and individually.
Seeds & Chillies (Two 1 min Videos – No Spoken Language)
In South Asian culture Chillies are often burned to ward off the ‘evil eye’ or burning hermal seeds to cleanse or purify the home.
Yoghurt: Step washing (31 mins – No Spoken Language), John Bright Statue (4 mins – No Spoken Language), Hair washing (2 mins – No Spoken Language)
Filmed at local sites bound up in histories of Empire and post-war migration from former colonies, including the statue of a local industrialist, members of the resulting diasporas wash stone and concrete 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, and a home remedy for natural hair care.
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
Translation: Sabeen Shahid Rehmani, Anam Ali Bhatti
Transcription: Radha Patel
Image Credit: Jasleen Kaur, Gut Feelings Meri Jaan – Yogurt John Bright (2021), still image courtesy of the artist
Jasleen Kaur is an artist based in London. Her work is an ongoing exploration into the malleability of culture and the layering of social histories within the material and immaterial things that surround us. Her practice examines diasporic identity and hierarchies of history, both colonial and personal. She works with sculpture, video and writing.
Recent and upcoming commissions include Wellcome Collection, UP Projects, Glasgow Women’s Library, Market Gallery, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Eastside Projects and Hollybush Gardens. Her work is part of the permanent collection of Touchstones Rochdale, Royal College of Art and Crafts Council.
Gut Feelings Meri Jaan by Jasleen Kaur is commissioned by UP Projects in partnership with Touchstones Rochdale.
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 was generously funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Foyle Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Rochdale Borough Council and Arts Council England.
Project Arts Centre is proud to be supported by the Arts Council Ireland and Dublin City Council.