Betaal / बे-ताल / Arrhythmic
Wires, Towers, Tablets and Augmented Reality Figures
‘Being Theoria’, Zhejiang Art Museum, 4th Hangzhou Triennial of Fiber Art, China (2022)

The relationship between what is real, and what is also simultaneously real, but in a different, augmented, extra-or-infra-real sense, can be thought of as a kind of off-beat rhythm, a time not exactly synchronous with ‘normal’ time. Let’s just call it ‘Arrhythmic’.

In many Indic languages, there are spectral, arrhythmic beings who exist between the moments of our time; they are called ‘betaal’. The Betaal, a figure familiar from popular story cycles in India, is read by us, today, as an entity that moves as an un-life, between time, personae, and consciousness.

Betaal / बे-ताल / Arrhythmic instigates an encounter with simulations of these presences in an infrastructure-inflected landscape. The landscape of loops, knots, ties, ellipses, holes made of steel wires and metal bar creates a crisscross configuration suspended in space. It invites attentions to gaps and apertures to the sky and ground, as a possible portal into ‘another’ world. Could this be the gateway to another universe, to time running in a different direction, or at another kind of space-time coordinate?

The work complicates and calls into question the scales of our encounter with the world. The simulated or extrapolated scale of the figure in this landscape renders the perspectival field awry, bringing a degree of dis-orientation to the encounter, accentuating the experience of listening and perception. Within this ‘world within a world’ are thoughts of distinct personae, of different genders, of different ages, of different moments of time.

The work becomes an occupation of times manifold, of time knots. This confrontation between time and its arrhythmia, which can be shadows of the present, anticipations or imaginations of the future as well as the reverberating past, are motifs that appear in the thinking, works, and writings of Raqs. This is a key to the door on questions that have to do with what we do with time, what time it is, and what time opens up. It lets us think on the speed of thought, the velocity of feelings, the rhythms of labour, speculations on futures. In this scenario, Betaals become our interlocutors and emissaries, pose riddles, make up excuses and stories, and express the things we feel and think between our heartbeats.

Betaals appear from somewhere, and interrupt everything, everywhere.