Luminous Will

School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2015)

Does history repeat itself, or simply rehearse its moves in anticipation? Can we read chronicles in terms of deferrals and déjà-vu rather than in terms of climaxes and closures?

 “Luminous Will” refers to an eponymous work by Raqs Media Collective, where the hands of the clock index words become phrases. The question of what is or can be a ‘Luminous Will’—an illuminated, iridescent desire for life itself—is central to the constellation of works that constitute the exhibition. The artists will transform the galleries into a habitat for thoughtfulness, affect, and the elaboration of a playful sense of plenitude.

Lost in Search of Time

Steel, Matt Automotive Paint, Text, Electrics

While retrieving the time gained in searching for all that is lost and found one can admit to a condition that one suspects that one shares with most people in the world today, of being lost, in search of time.


Video loop

Henri Cartier-Bresson took a photograph of a bank run in Shanghai in December 1948: A crowd of people desperate to get their money out of a bank in order to buy gold in anticipation of an imminent collapse of the value of paper money in the lead up to the take-over of Shanghai by the People’s Liberation Army. 

Every bank-run is propelled on the currents of a self-fulfilling prophecy: As people lose confidence in the value of money, they begin withdrawing money from banks in order to try and convert it into gold. This leads to a collapse of a bank’s worth; panic spreads between banks. And so, cause becomes effect becomes cause. The anticipation of the future produces conditions in the present that lead to the anticipated future. Time folds in on itself like a snake biting its own tail.

In revisiting and re-staging Cartier Bresson’s photograph in Shanghai, Raqs meet the conditions of the self-fulfilling prophecy invoked by the event captured in the original image. Cartier-Bresson’s decisive moment breaks its banks and seeks the custody of other hands. Midwived by other eyes and cameras, the image re-incarnates as its own breathing and vivid clone, close to where we are today. The memory of one moment of crisis is transposed on to the reading of another. Time folds in on itself, again.

Seven Billion and One

Variations of the infinity sign in gold pigment, on pages of newspapers coated with black ink (English, Hindi, Urdu), 108 sheets of 22 x 14.5 inches

The seven billion people of the planet are animated today as they have never been before — with possibilities, propositional forms, and with an entirely new morphology and vocabulary of solidarity. There is an infinity of infinite possibilities. This takes the form of a recognition of abundance and a sense of infinite plenitude in everyday life, in a million mutinies, that translate into occurrences, co-incidences and resistances. We are in a time of kairos, not chaos — of the seizing and transformation of time.