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Memory and Magma: Documents in Eruption


Memory and Magma: Documents in Eruption

June 2019
BAP Outpost

Course Description

The Philippine Archipelago is one of the most active sites of volcanic activity. In this workshop, Raqs will take the metaphor of volcanic activity to talk about what happens when art practice enters the domain of memory and reflection.

Memory and magma work subterraneously; one never knows what will trigger their sudden appearance. Raqs Media Collective’s work with documents leads them to discover volatile memories, and to ask what a document is or can be. Sometimes these documents are photographs, at other times they are letters, diary entries, or personal effects. But artistic work with the document can expand its definition to include any object or trace that indexes a reality, affect, thought or sensation. Even the barely legible humming of a song in the voice of a prisoner of war can become a document pointing to a hesitation about the artificial binaries of defeat and victory.

History and memory, like unstable tectonic plates, collide. Sometimes these collisions cause eruptions. These eruptions may be memories of difficult circumstances and of living within and with unstable social and cultural conditions, or they may simply index the volatile fluctuations that mark everyday life. How can one undertake a seismological investigation of memory? How can one look into the caldera of the volcano of our time and still keep one’s feet on the ground?

Raqs Media Collective’s workshop will examine these questions with a view to making artists, curators and all those interested in contemporary art take the temperature of our explosive time.

Recommended reading:
Pacific Parables


Raqs Media Collective (Monica Narula, Jeebesh Bagchi & Shuddhabrata Sengupta) follows its self-declared imperative of “kinetic contemplation” to produce a trajectory that is restless in its forms and methods, yet concise with the infra procedures that it invents. The 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. It co-founded Sarai—the inter-disciplinary and incubatory space at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi—in 2001, where it initiated processes that have left deep impact on contemporary culture in India.


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Panay Avenue cor. Timog Avenue
Quezon City 1103


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