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An Audio-Visual Exhibition

Exploring Family Photo collections and community archives from northeast India.

Concept Note:

In Northeast India, many communities have long relied on the oral transmission of traditions and stories, serving as a primary means of communication and cultural heritage. This reliance on spoken narratives, as opposed to written or visual documentation, is a distinctive feature that emphasizes the vital role of storytelling in passing down histories and legacies through generations. Within this oral tradition, an intricate web of stories, ranging from mythical tales to factual accounts, is interwoven, contributing significantly to the rich fabric of community identity.

While the early 1900s saw the use of photography as a documentation tool by foreign researchers and anthropologists who visited our region, it was not until later in the 1930s that individuals or organisations with a means of owning a camera embraced it for capturing special events such as weddings, picnics, official functions, etc. These photographs often find a place in our homes and offices, unwittingly holding a trove of historical significance within these collections, shaping the communal history. Despite this visual documentation, reliance on oral narratives continues, leading to a multitude of stories remaining concealed and unexplored within the realms of collective memory and familial anecdotes.

The challenge lies in recognizing and bringing to light these hidden narratives, ensuring that the invaluable wealth of knowledge embedded in oral traditions and photographic evidence is not only acknowledged but also celebrated beyond the confines of familial recollections. It is a call to bridge the gap between the spoken and the visual, acknowledging both as indispensable threads in the intricate fabric of Northeast India's cultural legacy.


 “Legacy Threads" is an exhibition that delves into the rich compelling narratives of Northeast India's historical heritage by exploring family photo collections and community archives. This exhibition aims to explore the diverse and vibrant histories, traditions, and identities embedded in the hidden personal narratives captured within family collections and archives of various communities based in the Northeast region. By bringing together a collection of photographs, video and audio presentations, letters, documents, artefacts, and stories, the exhibition provides a nuanced glimpse into the familial, social, and cultural dimensions of the communities that call Northeast India home.


The theme of the exhibition revolves around the concept of familial roots and the interconnectedness of personal histories and narratives within the larger cultural landscape of Northeast India. By drawing on the intimate and personal nature of family photo collections and community archives, "Legacy Threads" seeks to celebrate the distinctiveness of each family's journey while highlighting the shared threads that weave the region’s diverse communities together. It strives to facilitate intergenerational dialogue, serving as a vital platform for families and communities to share, reflect, and pass down the narratives of their collective past. Through the intimate lens of family collections and community archives the exhibition aims to create a space for dialogue, reflection, and celebration of our region’s hidden historical narratives.


Key Features:

  • Multimedia Displays: Legacy Threads will utilize a combination of photographs, letters, artefacts, audio recordings, and videos to create immersive displays at St. Anthony’s College Campus.

  • Threads of time: Conversation/Talk: A 45-minute talk with the different curators from different collectives and organisations moderated by the Northeast India AV Archive

  • Interactive Workshops: There will be workshops on archival preservation, cataloguing and analogue image processing.

  • Storytelling Sessions: Legacy Threads will feature storytelling sessions where individuals from diverse backgrounds can share their family narratives, fostering a sense of connection and understanding.

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