Asha Tamirisa [she/her/hers] works with sound, video, film, and researches media histories. Asha has performed at venues such as the ICA Boston and Bitforms Gallery (NYC), has given talks at institutions such as the University of Michigan, Mount Holyoke College, and Oberlin College, and has held residencies at The Media Archeology Lab (Boulder, CO), Perte de Signal (Montreal, CA) and I-Park Foundation (East Haddam, CT). Asha’s work has been mentioned in the Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics and the 5th Edition of Electronic and Experimental Music: Technology, Music, and Culture. Along with many colleagues, Asha co-founded OPENSIGNAL, a collective of artists concerned with the state of gender and race in electronic music and art practice. She now works with the organization TECHNE. Asha has taught sound and media art at Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, Girls Rock! Rhode Island, and Street Level Youth Media in Chicago. Asha holds a Ph.D. in Computer Music and Multimedia and an M.A. in Modern Culture and Media from Brown University, and is currently an Assistant Professor at Bates College in Maine, USA.



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SOUR SOLVENTS [2020]


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In the essay Minority Histories, Subaltern Pasts, historian Dipesh Chakrabarty defines  “subaltern pasts” as pasts that evade historicization by eluding authorization by the so-called  “rational” historian. This may be because a past does not produce enough evidence, or the right kind of evidence, to confirm the knowledge that it suggests. Chakrabarty compellingly engages a textile metaphor, describing subaltern pasts as knots in the fabric of history. Even as marginal histories do not become a part of mainstream history (i.e. the knot is separate from the fabric), the subaltern shows us the texture and logics of history. 

Sour Solvents responds to the notion that there are multiplicities that exist within, beyond, and despite the histories and realities that we know. This piece does so, using sugar materially and metaphorically to engage the layers of pasts that are absorbed into our present. As Chakrabarty uses the “knot” to describe how we come to know the weaving of history, Sour Solvents plays with notions of dissolution to show the many histories that constitute the present, expanding and critiquing how the past remains, even as we may not always sense its presence.