Fever, Fever | 2015

Digital video, photo-constellations, match boxes, archival prints, 6’29’’ min (played in loop)

Global Imaginations | Museum De Lakenhal | Leiden, The Netherlands

In ‘Fever, Fever…’ interrupts a tale of assassination, escape and sacrifice from the classical epic Mahabharata. They argue that time never resolves conundrums, however distant they may appear. The search for new subjectivities, the locus of questioning, and moods of associations remain open and so are detours and bends in excavations. Raqs work on a photograph (held in the custody of the Special Collections of the Kern Institute of Leiden University) by the Dutch Indologist and architectural historian Gerard Foekema of a twelfth century Hoysala temple frieze from South India (depicting the episode of the burning of the house of lac in the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata).
The story of the ‘burning of the house of lac’ is a parable that features princes who substitute the bodies of their tribal subjects for their own in order to escape an assassination bid in a bitumen-fuelled inferno stoked by their cousins, who are also their rivals. It is a story of competing elites, a hydro-carbon fire-storm and the sacrifice of subaltern lives – something that feels like it was written only yesterday. The fuel, bitumen, is thought to be a substance that is evenly distributed between the fire locked in stone (petroleum and petroleum derivatives), fever, and the rage, greed and anger in men’s hearts.