Screenshot of

Asha Tamirisa

Counter-Archiving the Avant-Garde

On View: September 27-September 30, 2023

As the culmination of her participation as a primary researcher in The Kitchen L.A.B. Research Residency, Asha Tamirisa presents a web-based platform, Counter-Archiving the Avant-Garde. The project 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 aguarded, 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.

In September 2023, Counter-Archiving the Avant-Garde was soft-launched as a prototype 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.

In tandem with the launch of Counter-Archiving the Avant-Garde, a roundtable conversation facilitated by Tamirisa with artist-researchers Sharmi Basu, Budhaditya Chattopadhyay, Amirtha Kidambi, and Rajna Swaminathan aired on Montez Press Radio on September 27 at 7pm EDT as part of the series Instruments of the Black Gooey Universe On Air.

This project is part of The Kitchen L.A.B. Research Residency x Simons Foundation x School for Poetic Computation.

Counter-Archiving the Avant-Garde


Asha Tamirisa (she/her) is an artist and researcher, primarily working with sound and video in performance and installation. Her work often explores matereality and metaphor, history and archives, and gender and technology. Tamirisa holds a Ph.D. in Computer Music and Multimedia and an M.A. in Modern Culture and Media from Brown University, and has taught at Street Level Youth Media, Brown University, RISD, and Bates College.

FUNDING SUPPORT & CREDITS was designed and developed by Cotton Design.

The Kitchen L.A.B. Research Residency is generously supported by the Simons Foundation, whose mission is to advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences. The Foundation’s Science, Society and Culture division seeks to provide opportunities for people to forge a connection to science—whether for the first time or a lifetime. Through their initiatives, they work to inspire a feeling of awe and wonder, foster connections between people and science, and support environments that provide a sense of belonging.

The Kitchen’s programs are made possible through generous support from annual grants from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Simons Foundation, Ruth Foundation for the Arts, and Teiger Foundation; and in part by public funds from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.