Archives for month:

October 2011

Stuart Hall Library: Melancholic Migrants

The Stuart Hall Library runs monthly a Reading Group which looks at texts which stimulate discussions and debates elaborating on issues such as multiculturalism, identity politics, art, literature and philosophy with an interdisciplinary focus.
In the last Reading Group the text discussed was ‘Melancholic Migrants’, a chapter from Sara Ahmed’s book The Promise of Happiness, 2010.
Sara Ahmed, The Promise of Happiness


This text was chosen because it provides an interesting perspective on the individual migrant, concepts of multiculturalism, and ideas of happiness relating to affect studies. In the introduction Ahmed describes ‘the happiness turn’ (p.3) in which there has been an increase in research into happiness and ‘well being’ in the past decade, particularly in the disciplines of social policy and psychology. It has influenced David Cameron’s political discourse, and the Conservative party pledged to conduct a survey to measure the nation’s happiness [Stratton,, 14 November, 2010, accessed 12.10.2011]. Also, its themes are closely linked with Iniva’s current exhibition, Entanglement: the Ambivalence of Identity.

Find out more: If you are interested to learn more about the discussions from the group you can read up on the Library Blog: 
Audio recordings of each group are recorded and are available to listen to on the Library’s Reading Group webpage.
To enquire about joining the Reading Group contact or call 0207 749 1255.

Artist of the week: NS Harsha

NS Harsha exhibited his installation of 192 sewing machines ‘Nations’ at Rivington Place in 2009. The artist is showing again in the UK, this time at the Asia Triennial in Manchester (1 October – 27 November).

His work Thought Mala’ for the Asia Triennial is installed in the John Rylands Library. Visitors are offered spiritual garlands which Harsha has produced to borrow - as they would a book in the library - and are encouraged to handle, wear and meditate over them.


The Victorian gothic building, which is justifiably compared to a cathedral in appearance, has its interior transformed from a site of learning and theory to one of calm contemplation and spiritual reflection by Harsha’s ‘Thought Mala’ piece.  On now it is to be seen by anyone in or visiting Manchester before 27th of November. Visit for details.

NS Harsha lives and works in Mysore, India.  He studied for a BFA in Painting at C.A.V.A. Mysore (1992), has a Masters in Painting from Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda (1995) and received the Sanskriti Award, Sankriti Pratishthan, New Delhi (2003). He was also the recipient of the 3rd Artes Mundi Prize awarded in 2008. NS Harsha worked with Iniva in the 1990s and was also part of Iniva’s Drawing Space: contemporary Indian drawing exhibition in 2000.

Art & Economies: On Value at Seventeen Gallery

On Value at Seventeen Gallery: 12th Oct – 12th Nov 2011 London

Curated by Gil Leung with artists:  Stuart Baker, Andrea Buettner, Liang & Liang, Charles Lofton, James Richards, and Ben Vickers

VALUE looks at the highs and lows of values’ fluctuating cultural and economic form through the problem of judgment. Between use-value, value for money and moral values, the term remains ambiguous. The process of exchange is itself based upon a propensity for error and difference of opinion, where even currencies are dependent on their commodity status(1).

Such vagueness around how and what we value spurs speculation as well as abuses of labour. This is particularly prevalent in cases where self-subsidised labour is traded at a loss for some form of exposure and theoretical appreciation in value. That value is so unstable and affected by judgement means that the current worth of something is generally either referred to a past market verifier or deferred to a future speculative one. Valuing anything more indeterminate that cannot be measured in some way against these referents becomes a risk. In this sense, how and what we value could be considered a problem of judgment rather than measurement – how we judge ourselves and other things.

From consensual verification to dissenting opposition, fashionable reference to obsolete currency, there is a constant fear of being judged and at the same time a fear of judging. Yet, judgement itself, having an opinion, is also having a voice. Resignation – the giving up of opinion or avoidance of judgement – does not necessarily change conditions for the better but rather perpetuates existing ones. To value without pre-validation, is, in some sense then, to take a radical and also potentially shameful position. One that is less about being right or even wrong but more about speaking up for something that speaks to you.

All works courtesy of the artists. With thanks to LUX, London. Infomation from Seventeen Gallery.

(1)Ricardo, David., On Value, On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, sourced from,’for from no source do so many errors, and so much difference of opinion in that science proceed, as from the vague ideas which are attached to the word value.’