Archival Intimacies: Queering South/East Asian Diasporas

ONE Archives at USC Libraries is proud to present Archival Intimacies: Queering South/East Asian Diasporas, a multi-site project curated by Aziz Sohail and Alexis Bard Johnson.

At ONE, three artists-in-residence, Prima Jalichandra-Sakuntabhai, Vinhay Keo, and Pamila Matharu were invited to develop new works in response to the archive. Accompanying these works is Satrang at 25: Queer South Asian Diaspora(s) in Context, an exhibition examining the history of Satrang, an organization supporting queer South Asian communities in Southern California and placing its evolution in the context of broader queer diasporic histories. Pamila Matharu contextualizes these networks in relation to the Desh Pardesh (1988 - 2001) festival in Toronto. Starting in the summer of 2022, the exhibition also will be digitally hosted by SAADA.

The work of Los Angeles-based artists Prima Jalichandra-Sakuntabhai (in collaboration with Bitter Party) and Vinhay Keo are on view at ONE (Stranger Intimacy II) and USC Pacific Asia Museum (Stranger Intimacy I). (Please note that this exhibition at PAM will close on May 8.) Jalichandra-Sakuntabhai and Keo’s work investigates the remnants of embodied history, migration, exile, and queerness. These artists draw from family narratives and stories of immigration from Thailand and Cambodia respectively, creating works that navigate and question these lineages. Both artists aim to challenge and extend ideas around borders and boundaries, notions of queerness, transnationalism, and diaspora.

Borrowing from Nayan Shah’s text Stranger Intimacy (2011) and building on this concept, this project places art and stories produced by those who may be seen as otherwise strangers alongside one another to investigate the connections and anxieties that may emerge from the intimacy of bringing them together. Taken together, this exhibition interrogates what it means to explore one’s past from the present and how to balance the promises and the limitations of the archive.

Archival Intimacies Events:

March 3: Vinhay Keo and Prima Jalichandra-Sakuntabhai in conversation with Nayan Shah, Professor of American Studies at USC
March 5: Opening reception and celebration of 25 years of Satrang
March 11: Chutney Popcorn (1999) screening followed by director Nisha Ganatra in conversation with Maryam Keshavarz
May 12: Tracing the geographies of queer South Asian diaspora; panel discussion with Sheena Malhotra, Professor CSU Northridge, Debanuj Dasgupta, Assistant Professor, UCSB and writer and actor D’Lo
May 14: Poetry readings by Fatimah Asghar, Jhani Randhawa, and Christine Imperial and performance by Bitter Party and Prima Jalichandra-Sakuntabhai
May 27: closing tour and reception with Aziz Sohail
Date TBD: online launch of exhibition with SAADA and conversation with Pamila Matharu


The performative lectures and site-specific installations of Prima Jalichandra-Sakuntabhai address the structures of Eurocentric masculine power in space and architecture and take apart the physical and structural tools of the Western academic. Jalichandra-Sakuntabhai was a recipient of the SOMA Summer Award in Mexico City in 2016 and the emi kuriyama spirit award in 2020.

Alexis Bard Johnson is curator at ONE Archives at the USC Libraries. She most recently curated Six (Linear) Feet and the online exhibition Safer at Home. She is currently working on Sexual Science and the Imagi-nation, one of the exhibitions in the Getty Foundation’s 2024 Pacific Standard Time initiative, and Queer Black California: Art and Politics with the California African American Museum. Johnson earned her PhD in art history with a minor in feminist, gender, and sexuality studies from Stanford University. Before joining ONE Archives, Johnson held positions at the Princeton Art Museum, the Whitney Museum, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Vinhay Keo is an interdisciplinary artist and researcher whose photography, video, installation, performance, sculpture, and writing interrogate the effects of intergenerational trauma from the Vietnam War, Khmer Rouge genocide, French colonialism in Indochina, and queer temporality. He is a recipient of the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Fellowship, Louisville Visual Art’s Rising Star Award, and a Great Meadows Foundation grant.

Pamila Matharu is an immigrant-settler of north Indian Panjabi-Sikh descent, born in Birmingham, England, based in Tkarón:to (Toronto). As an artist, she explores a range of transdisciplinary feminist issues, blurring the lines between objects, activism, community organizing, and public pedagogies. Her practices include object making (installation, collage, film/video/photography), curating/organizing, artist-led teaching, arts administration/advocacy, and social practice.

Aziz Sohail is an art curator, writer, and researcher. Since 2020, with The Many Headed Hydra collective, he has been co-leading kal, a language where yesterday and tomorrow are the same word and a trans*oceanic platform supporting practices enacting queer pasts/futures and decolonial ecologies. His current research is a meditation on the longue-durée intersections of sexuality and colonialism with migration, law, and identity.


Hyperallergic: Your Concise Los Angeles Guide for April 2022

Popcorn, Movie, and a Love Story

KCET, “From Bombay Dost to Trikone: How Print Magazines Upheld Queer South Asian Culture,” by Aarohi Sheth

Hyperallergic, “Queering the Archive, Tracing One’s History,” by Vanessa Holyoak


Carla en Español 29,  “Existir es Resistir: Artistas AAPI en acción,” Vanessa Holyoak

Carla 29,  “Existing is Resisting: AAPI Artists at Work,” Vanessa Holyoak


Archival Intimacies: Queering South/East Asian Diasporas is supported by ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, USC Visions & Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative, USC Pacific Asia Museum, South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA), and Satrang.
Thu, Mar 3 - Fri, May 27 2022