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Cups of Nun Chai

  • Centre for Stories 100 Aberdeen Street Northbridge, WA, 6003 Australia (map)
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Join contemporary artist Alana Hunt at the Centre for Stories as she presents her deeply moving, eight-year participatory memorial- Cups of nun chai. She will be joined by Kelly Fliedner, Karen Escobar, Eugenio Viola,  Kelli McCluskey and Jay Anderson who will be reading excerpts from the work followed by an open discussion with the public.

Cups of nun chai is an award-winning participatory memorial and media intervention produced by artist Alana Hunt from 2010-2017. It is a search for meaning in the face of something so brutal it appears absurd, and an absurd gesture when meaning itself becomes too much to bear. Cups of nun chai emerged from the summer of 2010 in Kashmir when over 118 people died in protests against the Indian state.

Between 2010-2012 Alana shared 118 cups of nun chai, a Kashmiri salt tea, with 118 people in Australia and South Asia, as a means of memorialising this loss of life. She wrote from memory about each conversation and photographed each cup of tea. From June 2016 to April 2017 Cups of nun chai circulated three times a week in the newspaper Kashmir Reader, reaching tens of thousands of people in Kashmir during a period of extreme state repression following the death of rebel commander Burhan Wani. This media intervention placed the memory of 2010 in conversation with the news of the day. Through personal conversation and public media intervention Cups of nun chai explores some of the most challenging areas of contemporary life including the failures of democracy, state violence, armed struggle, the inherent fragility of the nation state, and the power of the media. 

These newspapers, over 100 in total, have been bound into three volumes that continue to carry Kashmir's stories into the world through exhibitions, readings, discussions and public events. Cups of nun chai won the 2017 Incinerator Art Award and was nominated for an Infinity Award with with International Centre for Photography in New York. The work has been presented at the Makassar International Writers' Festival, Project Anywhere, National Works on Paper Art Award and Darwin Fringe Festival. In November 2018 Cups of nun chai will be presented at Centre for Stories in Perth, followed by an exhibition at Tufts University Art Gallery Massachusetts, and a series of artists presentations at Tufts, Brown, Indian and Parsons universities in the US.

Alana Hunt makes contemporary art, writes and produces culture through a variety of media across public, gallery and online spaces. She lives on Miriwoong country in the north-west of Australia and has a long-standing engagement with South Asia. The politics of nation making and the colonial past and present of Australia and South Asia are central to her practice. Since 2009, she has orchestrated participatory art and publishing projects that have activated different media forms in the public sphere to shed light on Kashmir. Paper txt msgs from Kashmir (2009–2011) prompted media in India and Pakistan to speak about a state-wide mobile phone ban they had previously been silent on. This work won the Fauvette Laureiro Artist Scholarship. In 2016, the seven-year participatory memorial Cups of nun chai circulated as a newspaper serial in Kashmir, reaching thousands of people on a weekly basis during a period of civilian uprising and state oppression. This work won the 2017 Incinerator Art Award. Her essay, A mere drop in the sea of what is, published by 4A Papers (Issue 1, November 2016), explored the art circulating on the ‘streets of social media’ in Kashmir and made it into the Hansard Report of the Australian Parliament. In 2018, Alana undertook a residency in Sulawesi with Rumata Art Space & the Makassar International Writers’ Festival and will present Cups of nun chai at Tufts University Art Gallery, Massachusetts, and a series of artists presentations at Tufts, Brown, and Parsons universities. Throughout September and October Alana will exhibit a new body of work titled Faith in a pile of stones as part of Temporary Certainty, curated by Pedro de Almeida at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (Sydney). Her work is held in both public and private collections including Artbank and Macquarie Group Collection.

Cups of nun chai
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Ticket price includes drinks and nibbles.

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This event is supported by the Regional Arts Fund an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional and remote Australia, administered in Western Australia by Country Arts WA.