Reading List Leaders is a four-part aural gathering recorded as a podcast series by visual artist and poet Vidha Saumya. In each of the episodes Vidha hosts conversations and readings with her invited ‘Reading List Leaders’: Shrujana Niranjani Shridhar, Kamla Bhasin, Paromita Vohra and Arvind Ramachandran.
Reading List Leaders is an extension of Vidha Saumya’s poem and wall mural Reading List, the first work in a series of artistic commissions at Frame Contemporary Art Finland’s office space. Reading List proposes a list of 96 authors from India who should be in global reading lists. This list is potentially endless. The work was commissioned in the context of the Rehearsing Hospitalities public programme 2019-2023.
“As I read my way through list after list, helpfully extended towards me by institutions, visiting lecturers, and seminars in Finland, I encountered many silences. And to mend those silences, these names were my instinctual response.” (Vidha Saumya, 2019).
Reading List Leaders was initially planned as weekly gatherings for reading and listening in the Frame Contemporary Art Finland office. Restrictions on the act of gathering in Finland, India and throughout the world due to COVID-19 and political unrest have made weekly physical gatherings impossible. In the podcast series we can continue the project in a complimentary and meaningful way. Still a place to gather, the online podcast conversations and readings activate, archive and share both the under-celebrated Indian writers who appear on Vidha’s Reading List, and the Reading List Leaders themselves.
Reading List Leaders include co-founder of the Dalit Panther Archive Shrujana Niranjani Shridhar, Indian developmental feminist activist, poet, author and social scientist Kamla Bhasin, filmmaker, writer and founder of multi-media project Agents of Ishq Paromita Vohra, and co-organiser of the Feminist and Anti-Racist Night School Arvind Ramachandran, along with visual artist and poet Vidha Saumya.
Each hour-long session will be in various Indian languages.
Sound design by artist Kim Modig (Orker).
About Vidha Saumya
Photo by Aman Askarizad.
Vidha Saumya is a drawer, poet, cook and bookmaker. Her recent solo exhibition ‘Monumentless Moments: the Utopia of Figureless Plinths’ comprising seven books of poems and a Reader, was on view at MAA-tila project Space, Helsinki in March 2020. Vidha Saumya’s poem and wall mural ‘Reading List’ was the first work in a series of artistic commissions at Frame Contemporary Art Finland’s office space within the context of the Rehearsing Hospitalities public programme 2019-2023. She has read her poems in festivals and seminars such as Baltic Circle Festival and Runoviikko Poetry Festival amongst others. She is a founding member of the Museum of Impossible Forms – a cultural centre located in Kontula, East-Helsinki, and is currently working on the project ‘Paper, pulp, words, books: recipes for counterculture rebellion’ supported by TAIKE, Finland.
Rehearsing Hospitalities is Frame Contemporary Art Finland’s public programme for 2019-2023. It connects artists, curators and other practitioners in the field of contemporary art and beyond to build up and mediate new practices, understandings and engagements with diverse hospitalities. Read more about the programme on Frame's webpage.