Yesterday Once More: Nostalgia and the Senses in the Musical Archive

Jarrod Sim (Singapore)

2024, Penang House of Music – Malaysia


This project seeks to produce a renewed perspective of the Eurasian lived experience through the history of music. The term “Eurasian” refers to Malaysians and Singaporeans with multi-generational descendants of European colonial origins, often referred to as Serani. With the rise of ethno-national politics, and as intrinsically mixed-race, many Eurasians have adopted a dynamic sociocultural identity that often involves the performing arts. This project works closely with the Penang Eurasian community to explore their local sensed experience and to have them engage with PHoM’s existing collection. It asks what the listening regimes of Eurasian musicians are, exploring themes pertaining to lived musical experience, such as childhood exposure, personal tastes, regional influences, inspirations, and aspirations. These “regimes” aim to mobilise the archive and its collection as a site-specific confluence of nostalgia (Boym 2001), revealing personal and collective nuances that shape the general Eurasian identity today. Applying a sensory ethnographic approach (Pink 2009; Stoller 1997), this project uses the collection to elicit sensory and memory triggers to uncover the nexus of relations held toward the collection. This project will conclude by responding to these sensory resonances through a curated event in PHoM, with the goal of bringing the collection to the ‘present’ by providing stakeholders the agency to directly engage with a sensorial archive. It also aims to diversify the metadata by producing an audience-centric dialogue with the collection through an additional sensory layer that traverses intangible and tangible dimensions.