Archives as Memorial

Thursday, January 19, 2023
5 – 8PM

Archive as Memorial is an exhibition organized by members of A/P/A Voices: A COVID-19 Public Memory Project, a volunteer team of Asian American and Pacific Islander cultural workers, oral historians, educators, caretakers, and activists who have worked collaboratively since lockdown in March of 2020 to document the COVID-19 pandemic and the myriad ways it has impacted Asian/Pacific/American communities in New York and beyond. The project was developed in partnership with the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU and the NYU Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives.

Archive as Memorial reflects the A/P/A experience at the intersection of several historic events —an ongoing global health crisis, a transnational Movement for Black Lives, and a surge in anti-Asian violence that has led us to national conversations about community safety and memorialization during a time of immense trauma. Included in the exhibit are recorded interviews, shared stories, and artifacts documenting the themes of mutual aid, community care, economic impacts, interracial solidarities, disability politics, and experimentations in mourning, both for our futures and our pasts.

While A/P/A communities are too often at the center of recent conversations as objects of anger, curiosity, or sympathy, our work intervenes to document stories within our communities in our own words—this is not just essential for our communities’ own process of recovery but for all of us to heal as we begin to rebuild a “post COVID-19” world. In refusing the capitalist imperative to move on, as well as our desire to create with and for one another, we offer an alternative interpretation of the archive as an embodied activist practice that deepens community connectedness.

Archive as Memorial is one of many lifeforms the A/P/A Voices: A COVID-19 Public Memory Project has taken over the span of three years. The exhibition was made possible by project volunteers and core committee members, including Lena Sze and Crystal Baik, and generous support from Laura Chen-Schultz and Amita Manghnani at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU and the NYU Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. Support for the exhibition was provided by the Asian Women Giving Circle, a donor advised fund of the Ms. Foundation for Women, the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, and Immigrant Social Services.

Lead Curators and Community Amplifiers-in-Residence: Tomie Arai and Diane Wong

Curatorial Committee: Laura Chen-Schultz, Preeti Sharma, Vivian Truong, and Mi Hyun Yoon