PROJECT STATEMENT
Rage Against the Archive is an artivist project comprising video, performance, and new media art that probes how the New York Public Library’s (NYPL) digital archives catalog and display dehumanizing ethnographic images from colonial India. This work critically probes whether institutional archives perpetuate the cycle of colonial exploitation. My artistic approach is anchored in a critical paradigm intended to underscore how technology still commodifies the bodies of people of color and how we, as a more conscientious society, should consume certain images online.
The People of India, published between 1868-75, is one of the world's oldest and most comprehensive ethnographic books, commissioned by the British colonial government in India after the 1857 First War of Independence. After experiencing violent uprisings and the first challenge to their colonial rule, the Britishers were keen to understand the native tribes and their cultures to rule them better and prevent future rebellions. The camera, masquerading as an objective device, was employed as an imperial tool to document the natives, “othering” them. Dehumanizing ethnographic portraits were made with an agenda to push forward a pseudo-scientific theory about the racial, economic and cultural inferiority of Indians to justify colonial rule. 
How do these problematic historical images exist in our contemporary institutional archives? For this project, I explored NYPL's online archives, which digitized the original book, providing the public free access to these ethnographic images. However, NYPL’s website also sells these images of suffering as “Fine Art Prints” in various options. Infusing archival practices with capitalism raises some critical questions.
In my experimental browser-based videos, I use Google Chrome's “Inspect Element” feature as a glitch resistance tool to modify the underlying HTML code of NYPL’s website, deleting problematic photos and inserting texts in the website that resist the colonial ideology and the fixity of memory present in the archive. By removing these photos from NYPL’s site, I hope to restore some dignity to my ancestors, who have not only been exploited before by colonial photographers, but whose visual representations are also being commodified today. I believe that digital archives, in some cases, instead of being harbingers of free knowledge, are just another way to amplify colonial exploitation, and they must be raged against. Recently, I also developed a browser extension that subverts NYPL’s website and replaces all the “Buy as Art Print” options with an error message in an act of Electronic Civil Disobedience. With my project, I aspire to use web technologies to challenge and disrupt entrenched power structures and propose a decolonized digital archive where technology is harnessed to foster respect and care.
INSTALLATION SHOTS
(From group exhibitions - 'Error:404'  at :iidrr Gallery, Manhattan, NY, 'Seams and Strata' at Art Gallery of Peterborough, Canada and 'Out in the Margins' at Bloomsburg University, Pennsylvania)
Out in the Margins, group exhibition at Greenly Center Gallery in Bloomsburg University, Pennsylvania
Out in the Margins, group exhibition at Greenly Center Gallery in Bloomsburg University, Pennsylvania
Juror's Choice Award by Will Wheeler in the 'Out in the Margins' exhibition
Juror's Choice Award by Will Wheeler in the 'Out in the Margins' exhibition
Lecture-Performance at The Photographers' Gallery, London on 13 May 2024 as part of 'Photography in Virtual Culture' conference
Online Lecture-Performance and Live Website Intervention at the School for Poetic Computation on 13 April 2024
Documentation photos from a Lecture-Performance and Live Website Intervention during a group exhibition at Common Space in Syracuse, NY on 28 April 2023
Documentation photos from a Lecture-Performance and Live Website Intervention for Narratio Fellows at Syracuse University on 12 July 2023
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