Re-Run | 2013

Video loop

‘Extra Time’ at Chronus Art Center, Shanghai (2013) |  ‘Untimely Calendar’ at NGMA, New Delhi (2014) | ‘Raqs Media Collective’ at K21, Dusseldorf (2018)

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.

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