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.

Episode 3: Unionizing

 Artists and researchers focus on efforts of unionizing within the cultural sector and amid times of compounded crises. Originally recorded on November 12, 2021. 

Kacey Wong's experimental art project investigates the relationship between men, their social and political environment, and living space. He uses diverse methodologies including sculpture, installation, photography, performance, and social interventions. Kacey's permanent outdoor sculptures dedicated to Yeung Ku-wan and in memory of the Four Great Outlaws are installed along Dr Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail. He was the recipient of Best Artist Award in 2010, Rising Artist Award and Outstanding Arts Education Award given by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council in 2003. Hong Kong Public Museums and private collectors have collected his mobile home tricycle project Wandering Home, Drift City photo series and also Sleepwalker mobile bunkbed. His floating house Paddling Home, sailed once on Victoria Harbour, was the star feature in 2010’s Hong Kong & Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture exhibition and was part of the M+ Museum permanent collection. He left Hong Kong in 2021 and is now under self-exile in Taiwan.

Ola Hassanain is an artist who lives and works between Khartoum and Utrecht (Netherlands). Early in her architecture career, Hassanain developed a growing sense of frustration over the gap between architectural theory and the real-world actualities of the built environment. As she pursued advanced degrees, she trained her focus on the subtle politics of space. Her most recent work explores the idea of “space as discourse”, an expanded notion of space that encompasses political and environmental questions. Hassanain’s honors include the University of Westminster’s Quintin Hogg Trust scholarship (United Kingdom), a BAK-basis voor actuele kunst fellowship (Netherlands), and a Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development grant (Netherlands). She is currently a PhD candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts of Vienna (Austria).

Mary Jirmanus Saba is a geographer who uses film and other media to explore unknown histories of the Arab world and beyond.  Her feature debut A Feeling Greater Than Love won the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival Forum.  Her new collaborative films work at  the intersection of labor politics, feminism and finance capital, aspiring to imagine and create new political horizons.


Episode 4: Interfering 
With Chulayarnnon Siriphol (Thailand), Emilie Choi (Hong Kong), and Reem Shilleh (Palestine)

Curators and artists share about cinema going underground with increased censorship, the role of distribution, and the formation of new viewing communities around militant cinema today. Originally recorded on December 15, 2021. 

Chulayarnnon Siriphol is a filmmaker and artist who works with moving images and performance. He questions political ideology through his own sense of sarcasm with  adaptations of local mythology and science fiction, and in the transformation of analog bodies into forms of digital spirituality. His short film Vanishing Horizon of the Sea won Special Mention from the 2014 Singapore International Film Festival. His solo exhibitions include Behind the Painting, curated by Hiroyuki Hattori, the Art Centre, Silpakorn University, Bangkok, Thailand (2015), Museum of Kirati, Bangkok CityCity Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand (2017), and Give Us A Little More Time, Bangkok CityCity Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand (2020). Siriphol has taken part in group exhibitions such as The 5th Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, Fukuoka, Japan (2014), 19th Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil, São Paulo, Brazil (2015), Soil and Stones, Souls and Songs, Para Site, Hongkong (2017), Ghost:2561, Bangkok, Thailand (2018), The 7th Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition, Taipei, Taiwan (2020). His short film, PLANETARIUM, premiered at 2018 Cannes Film Festival as part of 10 YEARS THAILAND, a feature film by four Thai directors including Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Wisit Sasanatieng, and Aditya Assarat in the Special Screenings section. He currently lives and works in Bangkok. 

Emilie Choi Sin-yi is a Hong Kong based researcher, writer and curator. She began her career as a cultural journalist and is published extensively on media platforms across Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China. A firm believer in the creation of publics and knowledge-mapping via public discourse and engagement, she has participated in a wide range of roles, including as board member of Videotage, member of the Floating Projects Collective, and editor of Cinezen. She has curated art and film programmes, including Performative Doc, Hong Kong Retrospective Documentary Film Festival: From 80s to 1997, and Docuthon. Her research interests lie in the capacity of moving image studies in the Asian and Hong Kong context, with a particular focus on documentary, alternative, and independent cinema. Choi examines cinematic practices in relation to contemporary cultural theory, institutions and creative industry, digitality, media archaeology, and community-making.

Reem Shilleh interlaces research, moving image, curatorial, editing, archival, and writing practices to question the infinite formations of memory and collectivity. She is a member and co-founder of Subversive Film which is a cinema research and production collective that aims to cast new light upon historic works related to Palestine and the region, to engender support for film preservation, and to investigate archival practices. Shilleh’s practice is informed by a long research project on militant and revolutionary image practices in and around liberation and emancipatory struggles, in particular Palestine, its diaspora, and solidarity network. She lives and works between Brussels and Ramallah.