Raqs Media Collective
'What if we could fold time in the same way as we can fold a piece of paper? Supposing we could fold it into a boat or an airplane, what kind of voyage would we find ourselves embarking on?'
Raqs Media Collective (Jeebesh Bagchi, b.1965, New Delhi, Monica Narula, b. 1969, New Delhi, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, b. 1968, New Delhi) have been variously described as artists, media practitioners, curators, researchers, editors and catalysts of cultural processes. Their work is located at the intersections of contemporary art, historical enquiry, philosophical speculation, research and theory, often taking the form of installations, online and offline media objects, performances and encounters. Raqs follow their self-declared imperative of ‘kinetic contemplation’ to produce work that demands the viewer look anew at what they take for granted. Myths and histories of diverse provenances, a deep ambivalence towards modernity and a quiet but consistent critique of the operations of power and property inform their diverse oeuvre.
In 2015, Raqs interrupted the Giardini at the Venice Biennale with Coronation Park, an assemblage of plinths, sculptures and plaques. These fragments of ceremonial regalia, residues of authoritative stances and the accoutrements of dematerialized power commemorate neither victory nor defeat. They offer nine meditations on hubris and a provocation to think about power's deepest anxiety: the inevitability of abdication. These formations are annotated by statements adapted from George Orwell's parable about the brittleness of Imperial authority, Shooting an Elephant (1936). Orwell is also a touchstone for their video Provisions for Everybody (2018), which travels between abandoned coal seams in Northern England and an incomplete bridge in East Champaran, India to mark two cardinal points in the compass of Orwell’s life.
31 Days (June 2020)
Video with Calligraphy, Pixels, Sound. 18 minutes.
Raqs Media Collective
A conversation in images, missives to selves and world, mood swings in lockdown and a share in the planet’s lucid dreams during a global pandemic. Gleaned from a month's worth of the habit, within Raqs, of a regular chatter, the daily back and forth of things seen, heard, read and sensed between three people across decades. From the dawn of new feelings to the obstinate sediment of images that don’t let themselves be unseen. Disappearing ephemera, history in the making, the scene that unfolds in the corner of the eye - everything, and nothing. Real, imagined, and everywhere in between. Notes of pictures that whisper, speak in tongues, and sometimes leap, from hibernation to upheaval.