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Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum announces Raqs Media Collective The Great Bare Mat & Constellation

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum announces Raqs Media Collective
The Great Bare Mat & Constellation, an exhibition on view September 20, 2012–January 7, 2013.

Image Raqs Media Collective, 2012.

The Great Bare Mat & Constellation is comprised of new works displayed in two distinct gallery installations. The first features a carpet, a surface for the staging of conversations, displayed at the feet of The Vinegar Tasters, a two-panel, 17th-century Japanese screen from the Gardner Museum’s collection. The Great Bare Mat gains inspiration from two exquisite Han bronze bears in the collection of the Gardner Museum, mat-weights from China that served to weigh down carpets on which debaters would sit and argue philosophical points. Woven by a team of expert Bulgarian weavers, the carpet features a repeated motif that indexes the constellation of the Great Bear against a background of signals, essays, and conversations between three personal computers of the Raqs Media Collective.

The second installation is a silent, looped video projection that transforms, through a series of subtle alterations, the many photographs and film stills the artists recorded while in residence at the Gardner Museum in 2010. The images of the projected video reflect onto an adjacent gallery wall, where a luminous array of shiny metal surfaces mirroring distinct narratives create a crescendo of accumulated images in the mind of the viewer—much like what happens while walking through the galleries of the Museum.

Raqs Media Collective
Of the current generation of Indian artists, the Raqs Media Collective from New Delhi (Jeebesh Bagchi, 1965; Monica Narula, 1969; Shuddhabrata Sengupta, 1968) are among the best known in the West—and perhaps the most media conscious. Having started as documentary filmmakers, over the past twenty years they have evolved into a sophisticated—and sometimes performative—practice that combines photography, film, media, audio, and text, drawing upon philosophy and political theory in installations of unresolved poetics. Raqs’ experience of the Gardner Museum has led them to think of the way in which the Museum treats time, accumulates images in the mind of the viewer, curates a special experience of intelligence, and creates encounters between art and music.

The Great Bare Mat Exchange: A Carpet for Conversations
The carpet will serve as a platform for a specially commissioned program of conversations at the Museum, each involving four guest speakers, with Raqs Media Collective as moderators. These ‘exchanges’ will reflect on themes Raqs has chosen in response to their time spent in the Museum. Each theme speaks to a specific attribute or quality of the Museum, but is to be interpreted as freely as possible.

Thursday, September 20, 7pm
Where Does Nostalgia Take Us?

Thursday, October 25, 7pm
What Does Intelligence Do for Us?

Saturday, November 3, 1pm
What Does Accumulation Do to Us?

Saturday, December 8, 1pm
Why Does Music Move Us?

Program details can be found here.

Organized by Pieranna Cavalchini, Curator of Contemporary Art, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Special Exhibition Gallery
280 The Fenway, Boston, MA
Hours: Wed–Mon, 11–5pm
Thu until 9pm

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