“Why not ask again? Why not begin at the beginning, or the end, or the middle of a question, or a desire (because the task of ‘asking’ can stand both for the posing of a question as well as for the awakening of a desire)?”
This phrase, inspired by Raqs Media Collective’s reading of the Indian New Cinema movement pioneer Ritwik Ghatak’s film Jukti, Takko aar Gappo (Arguments, Counter-Arguments & Stories)  anchors the curatorial design of the forthcoming Shanghai Biennale.*
[ *Towards the end of Ghatak’s film, the protagonist, an alcoholic intellectual, falls in with a band of fugitive peasant and student rebels. To their proposals and counter-proposals, their arguments and counter-arguments, the protagonist offers his stories, his reminders, and his incandescent confusions.]
The artist who Raqs imagine as a protagonist for the forthcoming Shanghai Biennale is like a figure in a fable who transforms the telling of the story he is in by presenting riddles and engines, by asking necessary, difficult and engaging questions
The triad – Maneuvers, Disputations and Stories – is like the three-body problem* in physics.
[ *Two bodies in space interact in a manner that is predictable, with the dynamics of their mutual gravitational forces governing how they rotate around each other – “the moment a third body is introduced things get complicated and unpredictable. Suddenly, it appears as if everything can change”.]
A biennale inspired by this vision promises – pleasurable surprises inherent in fables and story-telling and a playful deployment of questions and arguments
a matrix of heterodox and non-doctrinaire connections between images, ideas and expressions – between art, literature and philosophy.
artistic and discursive visions that go beyond and challenge the conventional divisions of the world.
The Biennale will be realized through a series of intersecting orbital paths.
’Terminals’, ‘Infra-Curatorial Platform’, ‘Theory Opera’ and the ‘Calendar of Fifty One Personae’
‘Terminals’ – staging posts, launching pads, or connecting hubs – where an artist’s practice is invited to develop a constellation of questions, propositions and narratives through a consolidated, evolving body of work.
‘Infra – Curatorial’ – exploration of the different curatorial vantage points that draw upon new questions around network and knowledge, upon archives, upon the stressed image, and how the new generation has its own way of thinking the curatorial.
‘Theory Opera’ – An orchestration of major and minor modes in thought and speculation, voiced in ways that marry the heft of philosophy to the cadence of opera.
‘The Calendar of Fifty One Personae’ – A programme of exciting actions that celebrate the city of Shanghai, celebrate life, dreams, friendship and conversations in the form of visionary proposals for re-imagining urban life animated by the energy and electricity of polemics, solidarities and arguments.
- 'Black Face, White Face', by Zhao Liang, 2014. Courtesy of the artist
- '1999' sound installation, by Liu Ding, 2014. Courtesy of the artist
- Vishal K Dar. Maruts — Storm Deities Site-specific installation with beam lights and reflection pool 2016 (New Commission) Presented by the Gujral Foundation, Delhi PSA installation view
- Wang Haichuan Seven Days Installation 2013 PSA installation view