Raqs Media Collective: The Great Bare Mat and Constellation

Sneha Sikand of Saffronart on Raqs Media Collective’s latest commissioned works at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

The Great Bare Mat & Constellation (projection still), 2012
Raqs Media Collective
Image credit: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Boston: Raqs Media Collective (a artist trio comprising New Delhi based Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta) was commissioned to create two installations for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston after completing a residency there. Opening on 20 September this year, the installations are in keeping with the Raqs tradition of using image, sound and software to investigate a series of questions through group exchange.

Comprising photographs and film stills which the artists took during their residency in 2010, they have now created two installations within the museum. The first installation, The Great Bare Mat Exchange refers to a carpet, on whose surface a series of conversations are to be staged. The carpet is displayed in front of The Vinegar Tasters, a 17th century Japanese screen from the museum’s collection. The carpet represents the platform on which a series of philosophical discussions are to follow. Ranging from topics like nostalgia and intelligence to music and accumulation, these subjects have been chosen by Raqs Media Collective themselves.

The Great Bare Mat & Constellation (projection still), 2012
Raqs Media Collective
Image credit: Isabella Steward Gardner Museum

The second installation is a reflection of the artists’ flashlight tour of the museum in 2010. They were struck by how figures and objects seemed to appear like floating apparitions in the darkness. The artists have incorporated their experiences to create a silent, digital-looped series which is projected onto a wall with a shiny metallic surface. The projection along with the surface presents a dual narrative which plays on the viewer’s imagination.

Pieranna Cavalchini, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Gardner Museum, feels that Raqs is rooted in bringing together lost spaces in time. “They pay attention to every passing second as if it were an infinity, and the heightened attention they bring to bear on what the collection contains invites us to reconsider how we look at art itself.”

The works will be on view at the museum till January 7, 2013.

Read more about the exhibition

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