Not Yet At Ease | 2018Installation, Sound, Video, Treated Archival Footage and Photographs, Interpreted DocumentsFirstsite | ColchesterInvoking transcripts of letters and diaries, close readings of medical records and official dispatches, extracts from novels and poetry, accounts of dreams and nightmares, fragments of archival film & photography and spectral snatches of voices captured in hundred year old sound recordings, Raqs’ recent immersive installation, Not Yet At Ease (2018) which premiered at FirstSite, Colchester as part of the 1914-18 Now Commissions, foregrounds the experiences and testimonies of the soldiers and workers from the Indian Subcontinent who saw action in the First World War.The work features a labyrinth that straddles the maze of the trenches in the battlefields as well as the padded halls of hospital cells where deeply disturbed soldiers were kept while being treated. Within this labyrinth, voices, images, poetry, officialese and reportage jostle for attention, echoing a the great war, in all its trauma and masquerade. Not Yet At Ease mines rich archival resources and invents a dreamscape to build a lyrical and imaginative layer of reflection. It discovers and highlights the official discomfiture with what was taken to be an ‘excess of poetry’ (read as signs of ‘mental disquietude’) in the soldier’s accounts. Raqs consider this early admission and evasion of the psychological distress produced by war to assert that the ‘unease’ generated by the first world war has not yet ceased.Nerves | 2018-ongoingMural. Text and Drawings transferred in Vinyl on 140 meter long curving wallFirstsite | ColchesterThe bold blue colour that forms the ground of this work is inspired by the Hospital Blues uniform worn by convalescing soldiers in British military hospitals in the early twentieth century. This intense colour field is overlaid with drawings that invoke drawings of nerves and nerve endings as they were understood in 1916. The text fragments are phrases and expressions such as ’a bag of nerves’, ‘a battle of nerves’, ‘a war of nerves’, ‘nerves of steel’ even as they discard the crucial word ‘nerve’. This gesture creates an abstract, almost codex-like pattern that viewers can decipher, and acts as an analogue for the frayed consciousnesses produced by shell-shock on the battlefield.