Raqs Media Collective: Spinal
Raqs Media Collective makes art, edits books, curates exhibitions and stages situations. The collective follows a self-declared imperative of ‘kinetic contemplation’ to produce a trajectory that is restless in its forms and exacting in its procedures, articulating an intimately lived relationship with time, memory and history through conjecture, entanglement and excavation.
Spinal follows on from Raqs’ immersive installation Not Yet At Ease, co-commissioned by Firstsite and 14–18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.
Invoking transcripts of letters and diaries, close readings of medical records and official dispatches, extracts from novels and poetry, accounts of dreams and nightmares, fragments of archival film & photography and spectral snatches of voices captured in hundred-year-old sound recordings, Raqs foreground the experiences and testimonies of the soldiers and followers from the Indian Subcontinent who saw action in the First World War.
Spinal invents a dreamscape to build a lyrical and imaginative layer of reflection. It discovers and highlights the official discomfiture with what was taken to be an ‘excess of poetry’ (read as a sign of ‘mental disquietude’) in the soldier’s accounts. Raqs consider this early admission and evasion of the psychological distress produced by war to assert that the ‘unease’ generated by the First World War has not yet ceased.
Raqs Media Collective: Jeebesh Bagchi (b. 1965, New Delhi), Monica Narula (b. 1969, New Delhi), Shuddhabrata Sengupta, (b. 1968, New Delhi).
Recent exhibitions include: In the Open or in Stealth (The Unruly Presence of an Intimate Future), MACBA, Barcelona (curated by Raqs); Everything Else is Ordinary, K21 Ständehaus, Düsseldorf; Not Yet at Ease, Firstsite, Colchester (all 2018); Twilight Language, The Whitworth, Manchester (2017); Why Not Ask Again?: 11th Shanghai Biennale (curated by Raqs); Thicket, a participatory installation, Tate Exchange at Tate Modern, London (all 2016).
Not Yet At Ease was co-commissioned by Firstsite and 14–18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, with support from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.