The Knots that Bind are the Knots that Fray

7 channel video installation, varying lengths

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, Newcastle (2010); Kiran Nadar Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Noida, U.P (2012)

In early April 2009 the last of the distinctive Titan cranes from the Tyneside Swan Hunter shipyard in northern England were loaded up onto a heavy load vessel and sailed out of the River Tyne. These vast iconic forms were dismantled and shipped to a new life at the Bharati shipyard on the West coast of India.

Raqs treats found footage of the last voyage of the ship-building cranes down the Tyne river (shot by an engineer and amateur shipyard enthusiast) to create a world of passages, transitions and departures. The ghostly forms within the images allude to floating worlds, to the enchantment of industrial machinery and the life of ships.They remain indefinite and suggestive of place, evoking an archive built by acts of lay remembering. The video enthusiast’s footage of a piece of local history is transformed in this work into vignettes from a fantastical voyage. The work is both about drifting away and coming ashore. The ‘knots’ of the title can refer both to nautical speed as well as to the complex ties that bind people to histories. Ties hold things together and speed frays them apart. The knots that bind are the knots that fray. 

The Knots that Bind are the Knots that Fray evokes this history of attachment and distance, and  brings together ships and people on the move to create an image of a world where the fortunes of both life and labour are framed and dismantled by global forces. It is an attempt to come to terms with the fact that we finally learn to value a history only when consider its departure, its passage away from our lives.

Like on-shore sweethearts bidding farewell to men in sailing ships, the world watches its own histories float away. Sometimes, as when finally falling in love, only the silences of loss and longing remain.