Bakirathi Mani on Unseeing Empire
6:30 – 7:30PM
This event is hosted in conjunction with Independent Curators International.
Curator and researcher Bakirathi Mani (Professor of English Literature, Swarthmore College, and Curatorial Intensive alum, New York 2010) discusses her recent and ongoing research that sheds light on the long-lasting effects of colonial conquest on Asian American visual cultures. In her 2020 book Unseeing Empire: Photography, Representation, South Asian America, Mani explores the modes of seeing at work for diasporic subjects as photographic art, museums, and art exhibitions promise a sense of visibility and belonging. Through the photograph-based works of three South Asian women artists — Seher Shah, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, and Gauri Gill — as well as a variety of museum exhibitions and her own experiences as a curator, Mani uncovers what she terms “diasporic mimesis” at work in the complex identifications that haunt the archival image. In this talk, the author expands on the focus of Unseeing Empire (which has its origins in her 2010 Curatorial Intensive project) to deepen our understanding of the many forms of diaspora that shape individual encounters with visuality as well as racial identities and communities.