Archiving the pandemic

The Northeast India AV Archive, an audiovisual public archive at the Department of Mass Media at St Anthony’s College, is capturing stories of the pandemic so that the future generations can know about the life and time of those who survived or perished in this global phenomenon.
Formed last October, the Archive’s latest initiative is Khlam (plague): Archiving the COVID-19 Pandemic in Meghalaya (meghalayacv19archive.in).
“COVID-19 Pandemic cannot be an occasion for uncertain silence. The Northeast India AV Archive is creating Khlam by collecting experiences and impressions of how COVID-19 has affected everyday lives in Meghalaya. It will attempt to be a witness to the changes which are being wrought, policies which are being actualised, and even those moments which continue to remain the same,” said Tarun Bhartiya, who has been associated with the Archive since its inception as a research consultant as well as member of the working committee.
The Northeast India AV Archive and The Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Japan (SPF) as part of its response to the disruptive arrival of CoViD19 pandemic is engaging with the creative community of Meghalaya through offering short-term collaborations to practicing artists, musicians, writers and image-makers to help them imagine living the present as well as the future with the world this pandemic has wrought.
The Archive is offering 28 short-term collaborations of two months each to help create artwork, short films, short photo essays, reflective essays, music pieces and performances.
The Archive and the Sasakawa foundation are also providing financial support to artist collaborators not only in Shillong but will strive to include people from various parts of the state. Also, rather than focusing on anglophone urban world, we would encourage creative responses in vernacular, especially Pnar, A’chik and Khasi languages.
“We need not wait for the future to look at the past but start collecting experiences and impressions of how COVID-19 has affected everyday lives in Meghalaya, changes which are being wrought, policies which are being actualised, and maybe even those moments which remain the same. With no end in sight, where social distancing, lockdowns, spatial containment continue to be order of the day, we need to figure out ways and modes of both practices as well as uses of the archive,” said Nathaniel DN Majaw, project director at the Archive.
The last date for applications is June 24.
“NE AV Archive right from the beginning puts common citizens and their relationship with history as its reason to be. That’s why when the pandemic disrupted our lives we imagined Khlam as an archive of the pandemic which shall become repository not only of the state and its actions but also people’s experiences and engagement with this. This collaboration is imagined both as a support to the artist community as well as expanding the meaning of the archive itself,” Bhartiya said.

Photo courtesy: Nathaniel Majaw

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