Annotation {15 to 20}



My first response when I entered Mati Ghar at the public opening of INSERT2014 was that this place is profoundly beautiful and I thought that this dome, hosting an entire cosmos of uncertainties, anarchies, and fragilities, was a provocation to the ‘contemporary’ art context of this city.

Between The Incidental Insurgents {WE ARE WHERE WE CANNOT BUT BE} and In The Faraway Past and In The Future {A linear structure that will create light echoes…} were many hours of traversing through images, sounds, and forms; ideas, thoughts and propositions – some fleeting; others firmly stuck with blu tack in my mind. Balthazar appeared in a dream, weeks later, in another city; Spiders worked on a web that wished for a conversation with the cityscape of Wanted/Unwanted Move; The Hanging Piece spoke to the silence in Jis tann lage soee jane, the space between the bricks, like a cut between two shots, the site of drama; and then – floored by the ambition of Icarus 13: The First Journey to the Sun. What a wandering.

Raqs Media Collective’s INSERTion is that addition that reminds this city of the space, time and context that potentially exists for art. A month later, what else remains with me is an impressive artist book with yellow pages of possibilities and a T-shirt that tells that The Hours Of This Watch Is Numbered.

- Iram Ghufran



- Shamsher Ali


Death comes to us all. As birth did. Without choice or favour.
It is the only legitimate conclusion to the accident of our birth.
We are all equipped to be born. Must we not all be equipped to die as well? This fear of death we learn from living. It is a learned fear. From the spectacle of its finality, and the suffering that often accompanies it. Hannah’s exercise is an attempt to reveal the nature of the beast.

We listen on headphones to conversations between experts and clients. Expert, as much as one can be, limited by the personal nature of ones experience on-life|death.
We surf conversations at will.
Experts, some formidable, heavy with their knowledge, serve to heighten the fragility of life. The unjust way it is sometimes taken, by force. Some, compassionate and wise, advocate its willful surrender. A sign of a life well lived. Like the blind men of hindoostan, experts, illuminate parts of what they sense of the great beast that stalks us inexorably.

The hushed stillness has little resemblance to a place where death is being discussed. Rather, it is the agreeable quiet that accompanies minds doing what they do best. Puzzling answers to big things.

Hannah’s exercise succeeds in its premise to set us thinking. Thinking is enough. We all come equipped with the answers. One must just pause to listen.
There is a celebration later, of life in general and the event in particular. Like throwing a stone in the proverbial pool, the ripples, here of causation spin off into interesting animated conversations.

I attempt some causation of my own. I implore a professor of philosophy, an expert, to try an artificially induced psychedelic experience. I even offer to get him a stamp. There is a near death survivor who lay dreaming for three months. And having dreamed the dream of life|death, now, no longer fears it. She speaks about Re-incarnation; I tempt her with Non-dualism.

- Vaibhav Singh


I visited the exhibition only once, and for a short duration. Though fleeting and fragmentary, it made for an exhilarating brush with passionate creativity and an engagement, not just with the world of art, but also with what surrounds it, challenges it, lies beyond it, and changes it. One could sense the mingling and criss-crossing of the banal and the seismic, the political and the inert, of spontaneity and artifice, of the atonal and the song: in short, one could feel the pulse of our times through the varied exhibits. The only regret: why are all such ‘events’ unable to move out of the confines of spaces traversed only by certain limited sections of society, when their inherent power lies in the ability to evoke a much wider and meaningful response? Would it work better if a more commonly, locally-known language were to be used for the textual content, as one co-viewer suggested?

- Sheena Jain



- Bhagwati Prasad


From where do I begin?
We begin all the time.

I simply follow his beginning: “Forensis is latin, ancient, pertaining to Forum, concerning law, economy and politics. Forensis to Forensic, a term, after a tremendous shift”, almost castrated by recent regimes; and nowadays utilized by experts in criminal investigation, mostly by Establishments all over the world.

A return to Forensis logically meant a return to “the Forum concerning Law, Politics and economy”, but “Forensic Architecture” perhaps meant the involvement of artists of all kind, other experts too, and with the active engagement of Material-in-Design, for a renewed understanding of the present.

A word for word translation of Forensic Architecture: Addalti illm-e-Tameer. Addaltai is something which is about court of Law, and therefore very dry political, and without any humour. (Arts and crafts in urdu mean fanoon-e-latifa). But with the knowledge of tameer (construction), we have something new in our hands. A building functions like a photograph. It is not a mere 3D image, but M-D – multi-dimensional). The whole of life on the ground then becomes a photograph to study. A bone, a brick is a photograph. A broken piece of fan with human flesh after a drone attack not only becomes evidence but also the material to understand Architecture.

Zizek thinks of architecture of toilets of France, Germany and England, and comes to a conclusion about why their approach to life has resulted in the design of their ways to flush their excrements.

Rushing through the lecture, Weizman said, “Movements shape architecture”. The present is movement. We may go anywhere, but we are in the present. All our transactions occur in the present. I exist as individual, as multiple, simultaneously. The sprawl of subjects and objects around me enables me to experience a fragmentation of sorts, agreed. But I exist not at one place but at various places simultaneously. But architecture also shapes movement? Subject-object relation is like the chicken-egg question. Or, in other words, if “substance is subject”, then what is its reverse?

He said, “all objects are opaque to some extent”. The present is an amalgamation of many running presents, ghostly-ly archived and layered pasts, and many anticipations. Material was always there, so were ruins. The mind is a city built upon ruins. “Ruins return,” said Freud.

He said, “We built cities on ruins. They keep on entering.” We now know about genocides. This forest is not virgin. People have been living here. They have been killed and new colonies have come up. They too have disappeared and forest encroaches upon that space again. But it does leave a trace, a photograph. The architecture never dies, since the new forest is not the same forest as before.

He did not say, “The question is not where the ruin is located, but when? Not in the present, but neither in the past. Time out of joint, to invoke the specter of Hamlet.”

He propagates the idea that one can listen to the speaking skull called architecture. Forensic experts make the skull speak. Weizman, the master grave digger, hands over the skull to me.

Hamlet: This? [Takes the skull]

What am I holding now?

The subject called Skull from the grave can be that of a perpetrator of violence, or of the oppressed. Whatever the case, in the computer it blends with the photographs of the person while he was alive. Life and Death once again come closer. Half man, half skull, under a single hat.

We desperately need the truth. A Forensic Architecture-like faculty is awakening Antigone inside each one of us. Who dies how, and when, is not the subject right now. The demand of Justice is a subject, and if any procedure or ritual unsettles the law, so be it.

Second Burial or Double burial happens when you retrieve bones of the dead and bring them up for something and bury them again. Everything changes. In Ancient Kashmir and Mexico, bones are repainted either in red pigment or in white. The bones of those who have been murdered, of masses of people, can be unlawfully (or even lawfully) retrieved and examined like a photograph and developed into evidence against the perpetrator who caused their death in the first place.

All we have is material. This ‘Makaan‘, this body and the house we live in. We are like a city – walls of buildings are supported by walls of other house. Our bodies are in contact with other bodies. The gutters are connected underneath. The roofs are connected. The little distance between each house is almost as much as we often see between people traveling in a train. The entire city is moving somewhere in time. We only notice it when we know how to read the architecture. Some of the underground is connected with the over-ground, like day and night. Cities function at night. Israeli soldiers are moving through the holes made in drawing rooms of houses in such a way that there is a war going on within the architecture, but nothing is visible from above. Time is immaterial, be it night or day, war is on. War is everywhere. The worm in the apple moves at will. In Switzerland, the worm moved effectively and the architecture of buildings have war written on them like a signature. The worm is there too, but in glossy shape, almost peaceful. But it is hand in glove with the worm called State in places where mass graves happen.

What is visible is not necessarily all. The hidden is not a mystified realm, but embedded in the materials around us, and materials of all kinds do constitute space.

We have geographical zones in this planet called Earth. We arbitrarily own or disown them. It must be too early for human beings to own the whole of earth, by merely naming it, or the manner it is owned obviously frustrates large sections of human populations. Desire is rolling half merrily, half lethargically, through the frills of the blurred arcs of our knowledge of earth, body and economy, politics, law and other forces. Very weird if we call this normality. How unprepared are we to deal with people in certain zones of conflict. How to define a human being in such a zone where laws are inoperative or tentative or hazy? The conflict zones must be pregnant with something, offer us an opportunity to rethink us.

- Inder Salim

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