Shuddhabrata Sengupta: An Interview

2006 | 00:36:46 | United States | English | Color | Mono | 4:3 | Video

Collection: On Art and Artists, Interviews, Single Titles

Tags: Activism, Art Collective, Artist Spaces, Asian-American, Conceptual Art, Documentation, Interview, Language, VDB Interviews

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In this interview, Indian artist Shuddhabrata Sengupta (b. 1968) discusses his role in the initiation of the Raqs Media Collective, a Delhi-based artist collective, active since the 1990s. At the time of this interview, Raqs had been creating documentaries, art installations, and educational programs for eighteen years. Sengupta likens the driving force of Raqs to that of a game of catch, a process generated by a back-and-forth dialogue mobilized through writing and in-person meetings. As children of the late sixties, Sengupta explains how and why the members of Raqs, (himself, Jeebesh Bagchi and Monica Narula) share an interest in investigating mass communication, technologies of visibility, and the significance of memory and travel. It is also for this reason, Sengjupta explains, that the Collective’s work is committed to fostering rigorous research in addition to art-making endeavors.

As skeptics of the “artist” label, Raqs, defines themselves as media practitioners, choosing to curate spaces and cultivate possibilities wrought by ambiguity. Overall, Sengupta points to the importance of silence and speech within the work of Raqs, a subject he calls a “game of shadows.” This concept captures the meaning behind the group’s name: Raqs stands for “rarely asked questions” as opposed to “frequently asked questions,” or “FAQs” found on websites and flyers. In effect, Raqs aims to undo the power of received knowledge that places limits on the exchange of information and ideas.

— Faye Gleisser

Interview conducted by Jon Cates in March 2006, edited in 2014.