Raqs Media Collective: Monica Narula, Jeebesh Bagchi and Shuddhabrata Sengupta
Raqs Media Collective makes contemporary art, edits books, curates exhibitions, and stages situations. It has collaborated with architects, computer programmers, writers, curators, and theatre directors, and has made films. In 2001 it co-founded Sarai at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi. Exhibitions curated by Raqs include ‘The Rest of Now’ (Manifesta 7, Bolzano, 2008), Sarai Reader 09 (Gurugram, 2012-13), INSERT2014 (New Delhi, 2014) and ‘Why Not Ask Again’ (Shanghai Biennale 2016- 2017). Their work has been exhibited at various biennales, art galleries and museums, most recently at Tate Exchange (London 2016), Foundacion Proa (Buenos Aires 2015), Laumeier Sculpture Park (St Louis 2016), and the Whitworth Art Gallery (Manchester 2017), Firstsite (Colchester 2018) and K21 (Dusseldorf, 2018).
‘An Afternoon Unregistered on the Richter Scale’ is a looped video projection of an archived photographic image in which a room full of surveyors is transformed by Raqs through a series of subtle alterations. The photograph in question is titled 'Examining Room of the Duffing Section of the Photographic Department of the Survey of India'. It was taken in Calcutta, in 1911, by the British photographer James Waterhouse. Raqs intervene in this image to conjure a constellation of stars on to a drawing board, induce tremors too gentle to disturb the Richter scale, reveal a dreamed-up desert, make time wind backwards, stain the afternoon with indigo and introduce a rustle and a hesitation in the determined stillness of the surveyors hard at work at mapping empire. The work functions as a meditation on the condensation of time in the photographic image as well as a gentle, whimsical disturbance in the serious enterprise of recording and commemorating the imposition of order on a fractious landscape. The surveying department is unhinged from empire and annexed to the commonwealth of dreams.