Our history in Southeast Asia has been a story about the silencing and forced disappearance of many activist and radical thinkers, which still continues to this day.
Jitr (จิตร) imagines a new process based on Southeast Asian sound cultures, philosophies, and indigenous knowledges to create new work and to challenge music technologies that are rooted in the hegemony of Western sound.
Decolonization requires hacking the system that is not made for us but use its tools to tell our story with our own ideas in order to break through and liberate ourselves from that system.
At least, we can expose the public to a sound they might not have heard before, thereby reducing aural bias in a way that allows all of us to move forward inclusively.
It is crucial for artists and creators to strategize and be critical about where our work is shown and how it reaches audiences in a way that preserves a culture of care.
elekhlekha (Nitcha Tothong and Kengchakaj Kengkarnka) are a collaborative artist group whose work develops subversive storytelling using sound and visual archives. Their research-based practice examines past histories, using multimedia and technology to experiment, explore, and define decolonized possibilities. Their first collaborative project, Jitr (จิตร), a speculative, imaginary electronics ensemble, premiered at Wonderville NYC and, in 2022, was awarded The Lumen Prize Gold Award. Elekhlekha have performed in small community and larger institutional spaces, including at LiveCode.NYC, the Jamaica Center for the Arts & Learning, The Jazz Gallery, New York; and online at Homeward Bound and CultureHub. In 2021, the artists received a City Artist Corps Grant for Jitr (จิตร), along with funding from Queens Council on the Arts and Babycastles. They are currently based in Occupied Lenapehoking, the unceded lands of the Lenni-Lenape and home for many Indigenous peoples past, present, and future.
Katherine Howatson-Tout is Assistant Editor at Right Click Save.