NOT A READY-MADE HISTORY is a four-episode talk radio series curated and hosted by Hera Chan and Edwin Nasr, commissioned forSAVVYZΛΛR. The talk radio series assembles and engages voices, experiences, and sounds from the 2019–2021 uprisings that took shape and continue to unfold in and around Beirut and Hong Kong, but also Baghdad, Bangkok, Khartoum, and Yangon in order to draw parallels from and articulate solidarities between mass mobilizations across different localities. NOT A READY-MADE HISTORY structures itself around four acts – reporting, unionizing, interfering, instituting – that each constitute part and parcel of the strategies, tactics, and modes of engagements through which dissenters seek to undo legacies of state violence and dismantle oppressive systems and formations. 

Hera Chan and Edwin Nasr are writers and curators based in Amsterdam via Hong Kong and Beirut. They met during the De Appel Curatorial Programme and have since committed themselves to engaging in mutual work on the militant image in the ongoing aftermaths of  2019's global uprisings. They will be conducting research on economic anomalies and port city logics at the Singapore Art Museum in July 2022. 

Episode 1: Reporting

With Brian Hioe (Taiwan), Jasmina Metwaly (Egypt) Lara Bitar (Lebanon), and Promise Li (Hong Kong)

Editors of media platforms that were formed during an uprising or revolution discuss the moment of coming together, what their platform means now, and where to go from here. Originally recorded on June 29, 2021. 

Brian Hioe is one of the founding editors of New Bloom. New Bloom is an online magazine covering activism and youth politics in Taiwan and the Asia Pacific, founded in Taiwan in 2014 in the wake of the Sunflower Movement. He is also a freelance writer and translator. 

Jasmina Metwaly is a visual artist and filmmaker based between Cairo and Berlin. Rooted in performance and theatre, her works focus on process-based practices that have a social function that generates tension between participants and audiences.  Metwaly is a member of Mosireen, a volunteer media activist collective that came together to document and transmit images of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. 

Lara Bitar is an independent media worker who works in Beirut, and the founding editor of journalist-run publication The Public Source. Her media practice is founded on a deep sense of place which centers marginalized communities and connects their struggles to broader frameworks. The Public Source is a Beirut-based independent media organization dedicated to reporting on socioeconomic and environmental crises afflicting Lebanon since the onset of neoliberal governance in the 1990s. 

Promise Li is a member of Lausan 流傘 Collective from Hong Kong and Los Angeles. He is active in left-wing international solidarity work through groups like Internationalism from Below (IfB), and is a tenant organizer in Los Angeles Chinatown with Chinatown Community for Equitable Development (CCED). 

Episode 2: Instituting 

With Clara Cheung (Hong Kong), Haig Aivazian (Lebanon), Kyaw Zin Htet (Myanmar), and Rijin Sahakian (Iraq)

 Artist-curators that formed or led art spaces at times of crises discuss the possibilities of life-affirming institutions, organization tactics, and at times, the need to end an institution. Originally recorded on October 21, 2021. 

 In 2007, Clara Cheung founded C&G Artpartment with her partner, Gum Cheng. C&G believe that between the states of consuming and being consumed, there exists grey areas and gaps that can be filled by art history, art criticism, art education, and discussions around issues such as contexts of artistic production, long term development strategies for art ecology, and the politics of art. The activities that C&G organise are often collective and participatory in nature, with a focus on issues surrounding the art ecology of Hong Kong as well as current events. C&G were invited to participate in different international art events, such as Shanghai Biennale (2018) and Singapore Biennale (2019). Cheung was elected as a member of Wan Chai District Council in Hong Kong from Jan 2020, until she resigned in July 2021 due to uncertain political threats in Hong Kong.  

Haig Aivazian is an artist living in Beirut. Working across a range of media and modes of address, he delves into the ways in which power embeds, affects, moves and organizes people, objects, animals, landscape and architecture. Aivazian has explored apparatuses of control and sovereignty at work in sports, museums, the office and music. He is currently Artistic Co-Director of the Beirut Art Center.

Musica Htet was born in Yangon and works as a recording engineer, experimental music producer, and researcher grounded in Southeast Asia. He studied Contra Bass extended technique and experimental noise music under Brian O’Reilly with further studies in speaker management and sonic texture development in sound art. Htet began his solo noise practice at Yangon Gallery in 2014 and released his first noise track overseas with other Southeast Asian experimental artists under the album name NOT YOUR WORLD MUSIC. Htet co-founded Noise in Yangon with Slyne Nom (Crazy Eel Society) in 2017, an experimental community of energetic young musicians from different backgrounds that puts on performances, workshops, and other social activities. 

Rijin Sahakian received her MA in Cultural Policy from New York University, and founded Sada, a virtual and physically convened arts education project for Baghdad-based art students, which she directed until its closure in spring 2015. She has conducted seminars and programs at arts and education spaces in the US and abroad including at the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, where she guest curated the exhibition Shangri La: Imagined Cities and served as visiting professor at the California Institute of the Arts. Sahakian has contributed writing to a range of artist projects and publications including Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, Future Imperfect, Hyperallergic, Warscapes, e-flux journal, and n+1. Her work centers Iraq as the site where global power has been deployed, visualized, accelerated for the 21st century.