Building Sight: Curatorial Project by Raqs Media Collective

Building Sight: Curatorial Project by Raqs Media Collective

In 2005 Raqs invited a group of film-makers, researchers, urbanists, editors and designers from Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore to help them think what it means to live in cities – Now see the results for yourself: Showing at Watermans From now – Sun 9 September, Daily: 12 noon – 9pm FREE –

Monica Narula, one of the curators says: “We are living in Delhi at a time when the city is becoming a significant (and much-hyped) node in the network of global capital. This moment is accompanied by a colossal process of destruction and construction, especially as the approaching 2010 Commonwealth Games provide a basis for a “modernizing” consensus.
Currently, we see older residential and commercial forms de-legitimized, evicted and destroyed and built over with a new infrastructure of transport networks, shopping malls and “heritage sites” appropriate to a global city.”

Delhi is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and is the capital of modern India with a population of around 14 million people. As a city, it is really cities within cities. People are familiar with enclaves such as:

o Lutyen’s Delhi – the seat of power
o Old Delhi, built by the Mughals and now a tourist attraction
o and the newer satellite cities of Gurgaon, Faridabad; Noida and Ghaziabad, which today figure strongly in India’s bid to become a global player on the world stage.

All over India construction is evident, no more so than in the four satellite cities.

Gurgaon, has become an outsourcing and offshore hub with its younger professional population living in swanky apartments and condominiums, enjoying the thrill of shopping malls, posh restaurants and entertainments facilities. Faridabad, known for agricultural and industrial products and Ghaziabad for iron and steel, have seen their populations swell as migrants from nearby states come to live there and commute to Delhi for work. With its population working in IT, Business Process Outsourcing, software technologies, NOIDA hosts the stadium which is being upgraded for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. However, what is happening in Delhi can be mirrored across India, and globally in places such as Shanghai, London, Tokyo, Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Cairo.

“What interested us about this process was that it has no end point. Our city is gripped by an intense and constant cycle of demolition and rebuilding. The Building Site – thus the title of the show “BUILDING SIGHT” – has become its new normality.”

Building Sight is a sketch of how a way of thinking about a city can be constructed. Cities are building sites, construction never ends, and work is in progress. Sometime in the 19th century, poet Mirza Ghalib who lived in Delhi pondered:

“What is Delhi? I ask myself.
I reply, ‘The world is a body and Delhi, the soul’.

In the end, Building Sight is a consideration of what it means to continue a conversation with the body of the world, and its soul. Building Sight opened in Stuttgart, Germany in 2006 and Watermans is delighted to present the UK premiere of this exhibition in association with India Now.

Works featured are:

The Dispute at the Dam Site (2006) by Sanjay Kak, a film-maker from Delhi.
The video is an elaboration of a sequence from Words on Water (2002) Kak’s documentary about the people’s movement against big dams in the Narmada River Valley in central India.

Gurgaon Giraffe (2006) by Ruchir Joshi, writer and film-maker, who lives and work in Delhi, London and Calcutta. Gurgaon, a suburb of Delhi is marked by factories, new economy workspaces and expensive real estate. This is a video mediation on a bulldozer that demolishes all in its wake as the construction boom fuels across India.

Manus (2005) by Satyajit Pande, a cinematographer and photographer who lives and works in Mumbai.
Manus is the anatomical name for the terminal segment of a forelimb and this video is about the unintended intimacy of hands / feet on the crowded suburban trains in Mumbai.

City Guide (2005) Lecture performance video by Solomon Benjamin, urbanist and architect from Bangalore that uses PowerPoint presentations, maps, drawings and photographs to tell the fascinating story about transformations in the cities of the south.

Autopoesis (2005) Ravikant Sharma, historian and writer and Prabhat Kumar Jha, social activist with ANKUR, Delhi. A collection of ‘found poetry’ written on the backs of auto rickshaw cabs in Delhi opens another pathway into humour and imagery of the city.

Aladdin’s Cave (2006) by Nancy Adajania, curator and art critic from Mumbai presents a digital media text installation looking at neighbourhood photo studios that use digital technology to locate their subjects in exotic backgrounds.

A Wall and a Sofa (2001 – 5) Cybermohalla Ensemble
The Cybermohalla Ensemble, a flexible constellation of young, working-class media practitioners in Delhi, has a five-year history of interventions in informal common spaces and contexts in the city. Their video work is also narrowcast on neighbourhood cable TV networks.

Ectropy Index (2005) – Sarai Media Lab
Interactive hypertext infoface/ projection and computer
Courtesy: Sarai Media Lab, Sarai/CSDS (Jeebesh Bagchi, Mrityunjoy Chaterjee, Iram Ghufran, Monica Narula, Shuddhabrata Sengupta)

Sarai.TXT 3.1: City Games (2006) Broadsheet Collective
(Iram Ghufran, Shveta Sarda, Aarti Sethi. Designed with Mrityunjoy Chaterjee) City Games is a special edition of Sarai.txt, a periodic experimental publication that interprets and renders research about urban realities.

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