In his presentation, ‘Why Not Ask Again: Thinking Scale and Duration of a Biennale’ Mr. Jeebesh Bagchi one of the curators of Raqs Media Collective discusses elements that go into designing a Biennale and locates them within the context of the XI Shanghai Biennale. He starts by looking at organic presence within the Biennale, drawing upon the concept of ‘epiphyte’. Jeebesh1He draws an analogy to elements within an ecosystem and how these elements sustain it over duration of time. Emphasizing on the time duration as essential to the process of interaction among art infrastructure and consumers of art, he ascribes ‘meaning making’ as an outcome of this process.

Drawing from Newton’s three body problem, he conceptualizes the unpredictability of an outside force as a ‘third body’ that breaks established narrative. In fact, he contends that curators place complementary elements next to each other based on intuition and unpredictable play of elements than other forms of association. This builds into the larger narrative of contemporary art.

Bagchi also looks at the architecture of the Biennale which affects meaning production. A Biennale emphasizes non-linearity of time and space. Space unfolds across art installations within segments held by a thematic unity. These segments include both static and dynamic forms of presentation that include visual arts and performances. Viewers are encouraged to transverse this space through architecture design that allows for participation.

Jeebesh 2nd March 2017 (13)As with the theme of XI Shanghai Biennale, linear narratives of modernity are questioned through spaces in two different ways. One is through asymmetric forms of exhibition spaces while the second is through the juxtaposition of small events onto larger ones. Time on the other hand, Bagchi observes, is syncopated in a Biennale. Through simultaneous exhibition of art events in real time, the Biennale problematizes linear flows of time. This separation of time could be seen in the binaries between the pace of events-the fast and the slow, the past and the present, the live and the archived.

[Text by: Shibaji Ray, M.A. (2nd Year)]