Index at 25 Years Later

Index of the Disappeared - Documents + Documentation

Index of the Disappeared is a collaboration, ongoing since 2004, between artists Chitra Ganesh and Mariam Ghani. The Index is both a physical archive of post-9/11 disappearances - detentions, deportations, renditions, redactions - and a platform for public dialogue around related issues. The Index also produces visual and poetic interventions that circulate fragments of the archive in the wider world.

The Index archive is based in Brooklyn and is open to scholars for research by appointment (when it is not in circulation elsewhere); email mariam [at] if you have research to conduct in the archive.


Not An Exception: US Prison Policy from California to Cuba (2014)
From the reader for the exhibition Shangri La: Imagined Cities, an edited and updated version of our conversation with human rights lawyers Alexis Agathocleous (CCR) and Ramzi Kassem (CLEAR), originally produced as a podcast for Creative Time Reports. The PDF also includes the full transcripts from Mariam's offshoot project The Trespassers, which were also published in the reader.

The Guantanamo Effect (2013)
Collaborative text and interactive web project, commissioned by Creative Time Reports. Translates part of the physical Index archive into a rhizomatic, relational, hyperlinked card catalogue, focused around Guantanamo as both reality in place and idea in circulation. (N.B. Content will be expanded and updated in summer/fall 2014.)

Introduction to an Index (2011)
Collaborative text and print project, commissioned from Index of the Disappeared for the 30th anniversary issue of the Radical History Review (which doubles as an examination of the 10th anniversary of 9/11/01). Presents a condensed history of the Index archive and research through layered and annotated images constructed from materials in the archive.

Notes on the Index (2008)
Collaborative critical text, prepared for the exhibition reader A Guide to Democracy in America. Presents the most recent and full statement of the Index's critical position.

New World Borders (2008)
Essay and "corrective redaction" project by Ghani, commissioned from Index of the Disappeared as a contribution to the newspaper Common Possibility, produced for the exhibition How to Talk About Utopia Without Saying Utopia (a project by Anthony Marcellini +Matthew David Rana) and distributed in San Francisco in April 2008.

Divining the Question: An Unscientific Methodology for the Collection of Warm Data (2006)
Essay written by Ghani for issue Viralzerosix of Viralnet, the online journal published by the Center for Integrated Media at CalArts. Expands on the concept of 'warm data' first discussed in the Index web project and developed further in the offshoot project Points of Proof.
Updated version with excerpts from Points of Proof postcards and Polaroids prepared for the Conversation Pieces exhibition reader in 2009.

Towards a Visual Language of Resistance
Collaborative text and print project for Bare Acts: The Sarai Reader 05; subsequently re-published in various forms in Pavilion, Samar, and the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest. N.B. that only the critical text is included in the PDF, but the visual elements can be seen via the journal links.

Notes on the Disappeared (2004-10)
Prose poem by Ghani, based on fragments of text collected for/from the Index archive, published in an earlier version (Notes 2004-08) in Afsaneh Seesaneh: An Anthology of Contemporary Afghan-American Literature, edited by Zohra Saed and Sahar Muradi.


Index of the Disappeared's initial project history (2004-06) can be found here.

How Do You See the Disappeared? A Warm Database, our first web project (commissioned by Turbulence in 2004), can be found here.

Information on and documentation of our March 2008 discussion series, Tracing the Index, can be found here.

Information on and documentation of our April 2014 conference Radical Archives can be found here.

Excerpts from a talk given by Mariam + Chitra at Hampshire College can be found here.

Online photo albums of documentation from recent exhibitions of the Index (2007-11) can be found at the following links.

A site-specific installation of images and texts drawn from the Index archive in NYU's Kimmel Windows, for Index of the Disappeared: Watch This Space. The exhibiton title alludes to panopticons in the forms of both prisons and persistent surveillance systems, and also specifically refers to the wording of some 'warrant canaries' used by librarians and ISPs to circumvent gag orders imposed by National Security Letters requesting patron records. For example: 'We have never been visited by the FBI. Watch this space for the removal of this sign.' Images here.
The full Index archive installed as a parasitic library-within-a-library, inside the Etthinghausen Library of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU, March-May 2014. This iteration of Index of the Disappeared: Parasitic Archive mixed books, images, and primary source documents from the Index's collection with books and videos from the library's collection, within an environment re-organized by Index design elements. Images here.
A selection of Index archive documents focused on government secrecy and surveillance and the penalties applied to whistleblowers, neon signs and lightboxes based on related archive materials, and a slideshow of leaked NSA powerpoints with an audio track based on NSA program code names and surveillance trigger words, for Index of the Disappeared: Secrets Told at the A/P/A Gallery in February-March 2014. Images here.

Part of the Index archive on loan to the Index offshoot project The Trespassers, as installed at the Sharjah Biennial 10 in spring 2011.
Images here.

The Index as a parasitic library-within-a-library, on the second floor of the downtown Buffalo public library, for CEPA Gallery's summer 2010 exhibition Art of War. The installation combined selections from the Index's archive with Index-curated selections from the library's collections, within an environment designed by the Index.
Images here.

A site-specific/responsive version of the Index archive, Index of the Disappeared: Codes of Conduct, installed at the Park Avenue Armory for Creative Time's Democracy in America: The National Campaign, curated by Nato Thompson. September 2008.
Images of the installation here and of the slideshow played in the installation here.

The Index archive installed as a non-circulating library with reading/writing lounge in the gallery in the UBS corporate headquarters in midtown Manhattan for the exhibition 25 Years Later: Welcome to Art In General, curated by Sofia Hernandez. August-November 2007.
Images here.
Video or audio of the library orientation session led by Chitra and Mariam here.

Images and text fragments from the Index archive, combined with protest slogans and proverbs circulating in communities connected to the Index, installed as neon signs, site-specific vinyl lettering, and vinyl on Lexan panels in Urdu, Arabic and English in the windows of Exit Art, New York, for the exhibition Sultana's Dream, curated by Jaishri Abichandani. August 2007.
Images here.

Text drawn from the Index archive, installed as site-specific, large-scale vinyl lettering, hand-lettering with paint pen on clear vinyl, and also distributed on free postcards (edition of 500 postcards with 25 different texts) in Arabic and English. Version shown at the Rotunda Gallery, Brooklyn, for the exhibition Spectral Evidence, curated by Steven Lam. January-March 2007.
Images here.

Download selected press clippings (05-10) as a 4.2 MB PDF

Includes a 2010 essay on the Index as a model archive
by Alice Royer for InterActions, the UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies
Index at LMCC