Monica Narula

Extending Arts Practice

Grant Period: Over one year

New Models on Common Ground: Re-imagining the Question of Cultural Infrastructure in Delhi, is a project initiated by the Raqs Media Collective as part of their curatorial work as Artistic Directors for INSERT 2014. The principle investigator of the project, Monica Narula, is a founding member of Raqs, and her curatorial and artistic work has been internationally recognised as spear-heading critical practice in India and outside. This project emerges from the context of an exhibition that Raqs is putting together at the Maati Ghar (mud house) at IGNCA, beginning in January 2014. Raqs observes that “Maati Ghar has rarely been mobilised for exhibiting contemporary art, and the act of displaying contemporary work within a facility such as this one is akin to creating a place for new modes of practice on existing common ground.”

Raqs’ curatorial intention is to inaugurate a rethinking of ‘place’ in contemporary art on a different scale, and to redefine the ‘new’ in relation to the ‘politics/poetics’ of usage beyond the language of heritage or obsolescence. Raqs intends to solicit proposals from writers, curators, urbanists, architects, historians, poets, and artists through an open call for proposals, out of which about 30 will be selected for inclusion in an exhibition running in parallel to the one at IGNCA in January-February 2014. The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication which will include artistic documentation, research and speculations by the selected respondents. As part of the speculation process, Raqs will also conduct a workshop each with researchers and students at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Ambedkar University, Delhi, to investigate issues around critical artistic practice. The process of speculation will be spread by way of posters, small publications, and online content which demonstrate the various possibilities in thinking about the idea of cultural infrastructure.

As proposed by Raqs, “the idea of ‘location’ that this project works with is more fluid than just being limited to a particular site or area in the city. We anticipate multiple possibilities of thinking with these sites as triggering points in order to open a fresh set of conversations and speculations around the question of cultural infrastructure in the contemporary. By doing this we are neither intending to displace the extant usage of these sites nor planning to take over these sites, instead, what we are proposing is to create the grounds for new thinking and speculation that offers creative visions of the possibilities such spaces hold, if there was an opportunity to work within them at different intensities and over different durations.” For IFA, what would also be interesting is to see if some of these speculations shape out and materialise as long term engagements of artists with the given sites.