Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

A Little Distillery in Nowgong

A Little Distillery in Nowgong

Exhibition: January 31 – February 28

Opening: January 30, Friday, 8pm | Performance: 9pm


Artist: Ashok Mathur (Initiator of the project), Brendan Lee Satish Tang (ceramic), Diyan Achjadi (Print & video) , David H.Bateman(Painting & Performance)

Curator: Makiko Hara

The project is presented in City Hall Gallery in  Ottawa in April 2009 as an official program of BC Scene in April- May, 2009


The central tenet of A Little Distillery in Nowgong project is to develop an interdisciplinary narrative that exemplifies the transformative nature of artistic production. While one of the major generative elements will be the research and writing of a novel that, like the earlier work of Ashok Mathur, draws on postcolonial, diasporic, and globalization theories, integral to this project is a degree of interdisciplinarity that will further engage the reader/viewer through an interactive installation. By fully integrating multiple disciplines – specifically, writing, video, ceramics, printmaking, performance, and installation – this project will be disseminated through several distinct forms to function in Canada and abroad in literary and visual arts environments. The overall objective of this project will be to explore and articulate possibilities for an extensive interdisciplinary production that allows for full development of all its composite elements.

The contribution of this research/creation project is in its demarcation of a space for artists, artist-researchers, and audiences to reflect upon cultural production beyond particular set models. While artists frequently incorporate textual elements into their work, the actual incorporation of a full-scale novel into an interactive installation space is relatively unprecedented. In this project, viewers/readers will participate in asynchronous patterns – they might read the novel a considerable amount of time before or after participating in the installation, and their involvement with the video and installation components will not be linear or time-dependent. Those who have the opportunity to experience the novel and the installation components will be able to think through not just how the different elements of the project come together, but how they as individual agents affect the work itself. The book, to be published by Arsenal Pulp Press in Vancouver (September, 2009) will act as a novel in its own right, exploring the politics and migratory history of a fictionalized Parsi family from India to North America. But the book will also function as a remnant and memory (much as video-documentary works with performance art) of the installation. The installation, itself a remnant/memory of the research and history of the novel, will be a collaborative project comprised of numerous video-poems, performances, and project-specific art objects that reflect the novel’s focus on a historical time of great flux in terms of immigration to Canada from postcolonial states such as India.

While the text of the novel (variously transposed to a three-dimensional installation space) and the videos (projected and triggered by audience movement) will comprise a substantial amount of material in the installation, additional elements will include ceramic vessels created by Brendan Tang, large-scale digital prints from Diyan Achjadi, and a performance piece created by David H.Bateman. Together, these objects will create a virtual reality space where audience members will “inhabit” the narrative by moving around and between images and text. The wider cultural benefit of this project will be an exhaustive investigation into and dissemination of a particular moment in the history of diasporic peoples, one that is being echoed today in terms of the international flow and control of labour and neo-colonial enterprises. This project will investigate not only the role of states and political machineries, but that of individual subjects and our responsibilities as well.

Special thanks to: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Centre A gratefully acknowledges the generous support of its patrons, sponsors, members, partners, private foundations, as well as government funding agencies, including Centre for innovation in Culture and the Arts in Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia Arts Council, and the City of Vancouver through the Office of Cultural Affairs.

A Little Distillery in Nowgong is made possible by the generous support of Joanne Louie Mah.



For more information please contact:
Makiko Hara (Curator)
email: makiko[dot]hara[at]centrea[dot]org
Tel : 604-683-8326