“RE-MIXing It Up: Queering Curry Mile and Currying Canal Street, Manchester, UK (2007),”
Performance Studies International Annual Conference, 2012
“Live Art and Performance in History and the Politics of Inclusion” Double PANEL
Alpesh Kantilal Patel & Amelia Jones, Co-chairs
This paper laid the foundation for a deeper exploration of practice-based work as part of my art historical practice that I expand upon in my book project, Productive Failure: Writing Transnational South Asian Art Histories
In late 2007 and early 2008, I organized a series of public art projects in the city of Manchester under the rubric Mixing It Up: Queering Curry Mile and Currying Canal Street. Arguing that the successful branding of Manchester as “cosmopolitan” included the production of homogenous and mutually exclusive South Asian and queer commercial urban spatial identities, Mixing It Up aimed to make visible (literally) South Asian diasporic subjects in the Gay Village, the epicenter of which is Canal Street, and queer subjects on Curry Mile, so named for its many South Asian restaurants and shops.
As a producer of the project, I was primarily concerned with the logistics and execution of the various events. As an academic, I was keen to move back and forth between conceptualizing the exhibition and theorizing queer South Asian diasporic identity. With the exception of a blog created largely as a marketing vehicle, I placed primary importance on the live events; that is, issues such as documentation were unfortunately not primary concerns.
This paper will consider the manner in which Mixing It Up has been recorded and what (if any) role I should or want to play in (re)shaping various archives to effectively remix Mixing It Up. Of particular importance is to make sure that my own intent and the experiences of the queer South Asian woman—whose artistic group “Sphere” was an important impetus forMixing It Up—are available or recorded. The latter particularly takes on urgency in the context of the little to no documentation about the politically driven performances of black British artists of the 1980s.
Finally, if one concedes that both the “original” project is not in any way the final word on the various events and that artistic meaning cannot be conflated with intentionality, to what extent should artists and cultural producers/academics be involved in archiving their work? More to the point, there is perhaps a fine a line between ensuring inclusion in and smothering the archive.