Counter-Archiving the Avant-Garde is the culmination of Asha Tamirisa’s participation in the 2022–2023 L.A.B. Research Residency, organized in collaboration with the School for Poetic Computation (SFPC) and with support from the Simons Foundation. The 2022–2023 L.A.B. Research Residency asked artists to explore histories of art, science, and technology represented in The Kitchen's Archive. As the collective in residence, SFPC developed the residency's thematic, "Instruments of the Black Gooey Universe"—a concept that proposes that "instruments" drawn from critical theory, electronics, and networked performance practice can be deployed to counter biases embedded in computational and cultural systems—and invited artists/primary researchers to pursue research inquiries related to this thematic.
Counter-Archiving the Avant-Garde was driven by the initial question of how archival conventions foreclose recognition of the Global South's influence on American experimental and avant-garde sonic practices. This question led to imagining a prototypical web-based platform that allows for alternative histories to surface through archive entries. Counter-Archiving the Avant-Garde operates against the idea of an archive being a guarded, static authority on the past and instead imagines an archive as dynamic, relational, critical, and communal. Central to the platform is the notion of the "counter-archive" or the action, to "counter-archive":
“...the ‘counter-archive’ represents an incomplete and unstable repository, an entity to be contested and expanded through clandestine acts, a space of impermanence and play. Taken as an action, the term entails mischief and imagination, challenging the record of official history. Employed as an artistic strategy it pushes our archival impulse into new territories, encouraging critique and material alteration/fabrication...To counter-archive is to counter-act, to rewrite, to animate over.”
— Brett Kashmere, "Cache Rules Everything Around Me", Introduction to Incite Issue #2: Counter Archive
Counter-Archiving the Avant-Garde allows for text edits, markup, and marginalia to expand the descriptive text of artworks pulled from primary source material in The Kitchen's archive. The web platform is organized around an eight-step instructional score, which invites visitors into counter-archival considerations and actions.
Counter-Archiving the Avant-Garde was soft-launched as a prototype in September 2023 with seven artworks presented at The Kitchen in the first decade after its founding in 1971 (1971–79). In the future, more artworks will be added to the database of this platform.
Alison Burstein, Dani Brito, Angelique Rosales Salgado, Alex Waterman, Legacy Russell (Residency Organizers, The Kitchen)
Galen Macdonald, Chakeiya Richmond, and Tiri Kananuruk (Research Group)
American Artist, Taylor Levy, Che-Wei Wang (Residency Advisors)
Todd Anderson, Yehwan Song, Or Zubalsky, Sophia Brueckner (Studio Visits)
Rajna Swaminathan, Sharmi Basu, Amirtha Kidambi, and Budhaditya Chattopadhyay (Roundtable Participants)
Cotton Design (Design & Development)