Raqs Media Collective, Meanwhile Elsewhere, Public Art Project, 2014. Commissioned and produced by the Samdani Art Foundation for the Dhaka Art Summit 2014. Courtesy of the artists, the Dhaka Art Summit and the Samdani Art Foundation.
What begins with our eyes, travels to the brain, courses to our heart, and then returns to our eyes. Reading a feeling or a moment is something that happens between different aspects of consciousness. Reading off the walls and billboards of cities, we become the words we think we feel, and yet, even as we look up or out to search for them, they always catch us unawares. We find ourselves, besides ourselves, meanwhile, elsewhere.
Meanwhile Elsewhere ( ইতিমধ্যে অন্যত্র ) is a commission for the DAS by the Raqs Media Collective, supported by the Samdani Art Foundation. Here; an array of billboards and posters is scattered across the urban landscape of Dhaka. Each billboard shows a clock-face that features words or phrases that relate to each other, possibly in counter-point. Taken together, the billboards produce a set of permutations and combinations of states of mind and being through an invocation of the actions of the hour and minute hands in a clock. Tracing the path of these word-pairs through the city of Dhaka will be like following a found poem on the streets. The completion of the thought set out in any one poster or billboard will require one to read its scattered shadows on other posters, other places.
The lexical patterns produced by this process register a deeply felt, subjective experience of time and duration. This work grows out of Raqs Media Collective's continued pre-occupation with time and with the metaphorical possibilities of horology.
In 1992, Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula, and Shuddhabrata Sengupta formed the Raqs Media Collective and have been collaborating to produce smart, poignant works—including multimedia installations, individual sculptures, online projects, and performances—through which they critically examine identity, urban development, modernization, and forms of power. In addition to their socially engaged art, they also curate, research, educate, and advocate. “The Raqs Media Collective enjoys playing a plurality of roles, often appearing as artists, occasionally as curators, sometimes as philosophical agent provocateurs,” they write. Their work is founded on the concept of “raqs,” the state of kinetic contemplation achieved by Whirling Dervishes.