PUSH LAB – Socially Engaged Practice

*This event will take place online. You will be sent a link in advance of the event* 

In conversation with artists Jasleen Kaur and Alina Akbar with a group from Rochdale about the project Gut Feelings Meri Jaan : 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 Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi 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.

The Panel

Jasleen Kaur (b.1986, Glasgow, Scotland) 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.

Alina Akbar – info TBC


Tickets are available as ‘Pay What You Can’ – the suggested price for this event is £5 – but there are a range of ticket prices so you can choose what you can afford from the options, including £0 as we want as many people as possible to access our events.

This event will take place on zoom. You will be sent a link in advance of the session.