[Reader-list] There has been a change of plan: Raqs Media Collective

Monica Narula monica at sarai.net
Tue Aug 1 10:31:35 IST 2006

dear Jose,
Thanks for your response. But I must point out a misreading. I spoke  
about contexts of showing work - there was nothing implied about  
there not being audiences! Its true that these things are connected  
but - through many of the things that we do at Sarai, i have  
definitely discovered that there is a large number of people  
interested in a very wide range of things in Delhi. I would therefore  
be the last person to imply the opposite.

Regarding our practice: We are based in Delhi and work with many  
limbs. The 'local' densities that we inhabit are fairly intricate and  
we participate in them many ways. These ways may not be just through  
art work. Here the processes and modalities are multiple and only a  
long duree approach will give us any meaningful sense of it. I would  
not pit this site's intricate and multiple impulses with an  
abstraction called 'global'. Somehow, we all get into an groove with  
the idea that 'global' is only elsewhere!

The reciprocity question that you end your posting with is a bit  
confusing. There is a traffic that we are all part of. It is a  
complex nuanced traffic. To have a simple equation of giving back, in  
terms of 'showing' or 'not showing' works may not be productive in  
this. At best it will create a defensive form of argument, and at  
worst will produce resentment about other places (which manages to  
keep the local/global con-terminus like say New York).

I would humbly add, that i am not inclined to be very conclusive on  
and 'works that travel' and 'works that embed'. I would like to keep  
the question open and explore it further, given that there is no  
singular thing called an 'international audience' (each city, each  
location has also its own audience besides the few that travel from  
art show to art show) and a separate thing called a 'local audience'.  
Both of these are constructs and do not do justice to the fractures  
that we all encounter in our travels and in our localities.


On 31-Jul-06, at 6:08 PM, Jose-Carlos Mariategui wrote:

> Dear Monica:
> Thanks for your detailed answer.
> Obviously the global side is not the one to be questioned, not only  
> because
> to question some type of global process may be absolutely  
> complicated since
> no clear specific rules apply.  In this sense, a good word you use is
> 'neutral' grounds, since globalization cleans up local reality to  
> much more
> unpredictable spaces, with universalized information loosing its
> contextualization and its former canonization and therefore a  
> source of
> reality.
> Though globalization is a complex process, it may not be compared  
> to a local
> process.  Even in local terms, the processes may be more  
> challenging and
> complicated since when you 'talk' to a global audience there is in  
> deed a
> group of people that know your work and are willing to see what is  
> the most
> recent work developed (there is an international audience).  Though  
> these
> avid group may seen interesting it is also 'neutral' and somewhat  
> irrelevant
> to the specific local contexts.
> My reality, at least working for many years in Latin America is  
> that few
> local people are interested in those global questionings (except  
> obviously
> from a minuscule local group of cosmopolitan intellectuals and  
> artist that
> are culturally versed).  This is why the exploration of what  
> happens in the
> city along with the local engagement is more difficult, silent,  
> problematic
> (even erroneous) and usually unheard and unimportant for an  
> international
> audience.
> I can put once more the case of Peru to clarify this much more: the  
> Festival ( www.festivalvae.com), which one of few constant annual  
> new media
> art festivals in Latin America, does a lot of things outside the  
> capital
> city, Lima.  Those interactions are silent and inexistent to  
> everyone in
> Lima (and obviously to the global audience).  Nevertheless, these  
> small
> things ('acts'), done with more difficulty, being more expensive  
> (since
> there are no technical conditions), more problematic (not a steady  
> audience
> if an audience at all) had been happening with some intensity for  
> the last 3
> or 4 years.  Today we can say that some of those places are  
> 'waiting' for
> the Festival to happen in their locality every year.  So after some  
> years of
> 'struggle' and allocating resources, there is a contribution to a  
> local
> experience that through workshops and presentations may trigger new  
> local
> practices and an expansion of their knowledge.
> This is today even much more important if we consider that young  
> people are
> already 'digital natives' which means they use technology as a 'mother
> tongue' though quite unfortunately the content available (specially  
> through
> TV) is very poor.  In that sense, when you mean that it is  
> difficult for
> someone with a non-visual arts
> background to enter the art context, I think
> that more than arts background we need people with 'media'  
> background, which
> I believe a vast majority of young people are.  One of our aims in  
> involving
> artists from Peru and abroad in this local exchanges is questioning  
> what the
> outcome is going to be.  As I told you perhaps it will require many  
> years to
> see something out there, but sooner or latter something may happen.  
> I had
> found that with younger audiences the involvement in new media art  
> is almost
> immediate, they are media ready (and I am not speaking here  
> necessarily of
> the Internet, but other 'offline' media such as the TV or radio).
> So these local situations (transformations, change) are absolutely  
> necessary
> and in my perspective, without trying to criticize too much, are  
> usually
> unimportant to the international audience.  So here I have new  
> questions:
> If you mean there is not a local audience for your work (which I  
> think is a
> very harsh statement), are you just thinking in a global  
> audience?   If from
> a local perspective these processes seem important, to what degree  
> you think
> the experience could be mounted or duplicated to other realities?   
> In my
> perspective it may be difficult but possible, thherefore to  
> activate a group
> of peripheral projects and participants can led to interesting  
> results.
> While you are refereeing to Raqs projects with international  
> curators, if
> the purpose of working globally obviously resituates the people,  
> what will
> be then the difference to work in Dehli or in New York, for  
> example?  I
> believe that Dehli and the Sarai centre are places of confrontation  
> that had
> triggered many of your works and that is what is valuable.  This is  
> why I
> believe as much as the local gives to us, we must give back...don't  
> you
> think?
> All the best,
> Jose-Carlos
> on 7/31/06 7:26 AM, Monica Narula at monica at sarai.net wrote:
>> dear Jose-Carlos
> Thanks for your mail. It opens up many questions. Some
>> responses, far
> from 'explanatory' and perhaps starting strands of
>> thought...
> - The art context in India is primarily around what is termed as
>> the
> "visual arts". 95% of the works shown and transacted are paintings.
> Followed at a distance by sculptures/objects and then the rare
> photographic
>> show. Photography has yet to find a stable space, though
> there is some
>> important work being done in this domain. It is only in
> the last few years
>> that there has been somewhat of a shift towards
> the showing of video works
>> and some installation work. These works
> are emerging both from established
>> and newer artists, and basically
> have a wider circulation outside India.
> -
>> It is extremely difficult for someone with a non-visual arts
> background to
>> enter the art context here. The reasons for this are
> yet to be researched
>> and understood. The recent entry of some
> documentary practitioners in to
>> this context is due more to their
> international presence rather than any
>> serious rethinking of the
> values and consensus that run the art contexts
>> here. (The documentary
> film on the other hand has had for many years a
>> decent and at times
> controversial public presence, and a committed public
>> around it.)
> - This situation will hopefully change over the next few years,
>> with
> more diverse kinds of practitioners making interesting works and
> staking a claim in the art space - which we think has begun. This
> process
>> will be interesting as it will mean changes in the ways 'art
> practice' sees
>> itself in relation to other practices and also to ways
> in which new publics
>> can and will emerge around the domain of the
> 'art context'.
> - We have shown
>> our CD works (GVHM, No_des and Ectropy) in Delhi and
> Bangalore and these
>> works have a circulation (also as cds). Also many
> of our works travel -
>> lightly - through publications and the web. In
> terms of installation, we
>> could not find a context to show (we have
> shown a few works within means
>> affordable to us in Sarai). This is
> slowly going to loosen up over the next
>> decade, as art contexts will
> probably become more curious to practices from
>> other domains.
> - It is an interesting process how many of our installation
>> works
> emerge, and expectedly a complex one. Works have emerged through
> conversations and the sharing of ideas and questions with some
> extremely
>> curious and sharp people in many parts of the world. (I
> would not club them
>> all together in any one idea of an institutional
> context.). In this let me
>> share a recent interaction. A young curator
> located between Lithuania and
>> Sweden has been in dialogue with us for
> more than two years. We share ideas,
>> critiques, questions, resources
> etc. Over this period he has invited us to
>> think on an idea that has
> been exciting and troubling him for some time.
>> This process of
> thinking may find an expression in an installation to be
>> first hosted
> in a place that he has access to, which will definitely by
>> outside
> India. As a process, we find this exciting and challenging, along
> with our work here in Sarai/Delhi. And i do think that such an
> interaction
>> - whether from a 'local' context or a 'global' one -
> deserves respect and
>> engagement.
> - Some of our work has emerged from collaboration and in
>> 'neutral'
> grounds. This made possible very intriguing dialogues and
>> processes.
> Sometimes I do wish that we could ourself host a few of these
> unpredictable encounters.
> - We are yet fully to understand the complex
>> processes that we are
> all part of in today's world and will give ourselves a
>> few more years
> before we find ourselves able to speak definitively on
>> 'publics' and
> 'places'. We have found very demanding and challenging
>> interlocutors
> and viewers in many different ways and places. This has made
>> our own
> map of the world more dense and knotty, and not merely defined by
> national borders.
> best
> M
> On 30-Jul-06, at 7:32 AM, Jose-Carlos Mariategui
>> wrote:
>> Dear Monica:
>> Thanks for the information on the Raqs
>> solo-exhibition in Dehli.  I
>> just
>> must say that it is in my perspective
>> strange to see that this is
>> the first
>> solo exhibit of Raqs in Dehli,
>> taking into consideration that Raqs
>> is Indian
>> and that it has been
>> exhibiting internationally for many years.
>> Perhaps as
>> in the case of
>> many of us (that we face as non-westerns), it is more
>> feasible to develop
>> projects in Europe or the US.
>> To which factors you attribute this
>> situation?  Has Raqs exhibited
>> in other
>> cities of India or in cities of
>> neighbouring countries?   How
>> difficult is
>> it?
>> I am not criticising
>> the situation but questioning it, because when
>> we do
>> 'something for
>> abroad' it may dissociate the project with immediate
>> reality.
>> I
>> believe there is a need (and an struggle) to present works in
>> local and
>> regional contexts and there may be strategies for its deployment.
>> I had
>> recently curated a screening of recent video art from Latin America
>> (www.videografiasinvisibles.org) that went first to Europe too but
>> now
>> is
>> going to be presented in all Latin America (thanks to the support
>> of
>> the
>> Spanish Cooperation Agency's network of Cultural Centres of Spain
>> in
>> all
>> Latin America).  Sometimes these supranational organizations may be
>> very
>> useful (more than national organizations).
>> Perhaps this would be an
>> interesting topic of discussion during the
>> Pacific
>> Rim New Media Summit
>> at ISEA 2006.  Specially on how we can develop
>> parallel
>> networks in the
>> Pacific Rim.
>> All the best,
>> Jose-Carlos
>> on 7/29/06 2:33 PM,
>> Monica Narula at monica at sarai.net wrote:
>>> Raqs Media Collective : 'There
>> Has Been a Change of Plan'
>>> (Selected Works 2002-2006)
>>> Nature Morte
>> Gallery, A 1 Neeti Bagh, New Delhi
>>> August 5 - 26, 2006
>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
>> ---
>>> ----------------------------------------
>>> Sometimes, adjustments have
>> to be made. Schedules need calibration.
>>> There are contingencies, questions,
>> obstinate demands, weak excuses,
>>> strong desires. You return to the city you
>> never left. You pause,
>>> take stock. Sit still and let a conversation begin.
>> Maybe?
>>> Around you, aeroplanes sit on wooden platforms in a wilderness
>> like
>>> widows on a funeral pyre. Clocks measure fatigue, anxiety and
>> modest
>>> epiphanies across latitudes. A door to nowhere stands obstinately
>> against the sky. All your cities are a blur.
>>> "Do you like looking at
>> maps?"
>>> Meanwhile, measures are taken, shoes lost and found, ghost
>> stories
>>> gather, the city whispers conspiracies to itself, the situation
>> is
>>> tense but under control. Someone offers you a postcard.
>>> Now: Let's
>> see what happens.
>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
>> ---
>>> ----------------------------------------
>>> Raqs Media Collective is
>> pleased to announce its first solo
>>> exhibition in Delhi - 'There Has Been A
>> Change of Plan' at Nature
>>> Morte Gallery. The exhibition features selected
>> works (2002 - 2006)
>>> in the form of cross media installations with networked
>> computers,
>>> objects, postcards, video, sound, prints and projections.
>> Works exhibited include: 'Lost New Shoes', selections from 'A Measure
>>> of
>> Anacoustic Reason', 'Location (n)', '28.28 N / 77.15 E :: 2001/02
>> (Co-Ordinates of Everyday Life, Delhi 2001-2002)', 'Erosion by
>>> Whispers',
>> 'Preface to a Ghost Story' and 'There Has Been a Change of
>>> Plan'. (See
>> Details in PDF attatchment with this mail)
>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
>> ---
>>> ----------------------------------------
>>> About Raqs Media
>> Collective
>>> www.raqsmediacollective.net
>>> (Excerpt from the Wikipedia
>> Entry on Raqs Media Collective -
>> www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raqs_Media_Collective)
>>> Raqs Media Collective was
>> formed in 1992 by independent media
>>> practitioners Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica
>> Narula and Shuddhabrata
>>> Sengupta. Based in Delhi, their work engages with
>> urban spaces and
>>> global circuits, persistently welding a sharp, edgily
>> contemporary
>>> sense of what it means to lay claim to the world from the
>> streets of
>>> Delhi. At the same time, Raqs articulates an intimately lived
>> relationship with myths and histories of diverse provenances. Raqs
>>> sees its
>> work as opening out a series of investigations with image,
>>> sound, software,
>> objects, performance, print, text and lately,
>>> curation, that straddle
>> different (and changing) affective and
>>> aesthetic registers, expressing an
>> imaginative unpacking of questions
>>> of identity and location, a deep
>> ambivalence towards modernity and a
>>> quiet but consistent critique of the
>> operations of power and
>>> property.
>>> In 2001 Raqs co-founded Sarai
>> (www.sarai.net) at the Centre for the
>>> Study of Developing Societies (CSDS)
>> in Delhi where they coordinate
>>> media productions, pursue and administer
>> independent research and
>>> practice projects and also work as members of the
>> editorial
>>> collective of the Sarai Reader series. For Raqs, Sarai is a
>> space
>>> where they have the freedom to pursue interdisciplinary and hybrid
>> contexts for creative work and to develop a sustained engagement with
>>> urban
>> space and with different forms of media.
>>> Monica Narula
>>> Raqs
>> Media Collective
>>> Sarai-CSDS
>>> 29 Rajpur Road
>>> Delhi 110054
>> www.raqsmediacollective.net
>>> www.sarai.net
>> _________________________________________
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> Monica Narula
> Raqs Media
>> Collective
> Sarai-CSDS
> 29 Rajpur Road
> Delhi
>> 110054
> www.raqsmediacollective.net
> www.sarai.net
> ___________________________
>> ______________
> reader-list: an open discussion list on media and the
>> city.
> Critiques & Collaborations
> To subscribe: send an email to
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Monica Narula
Raqs Media Collective
29 Rajpur Road
Delhi 110054

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