August 21, 2012 - Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum - Raqs Media Collective
August 21, 2012

Raqs Media Collective

Raqs Media Collective, The Great Bare Mat & Constellation (detail), 2012. Wool carpet, 9’ 11” x 9’ 11”. Courtesy Raqs Media Collective.

Raqs Media Collective
The Great Bare Mat & Constellation

September 20, 2012–January 7, 2013

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

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 & Constellation 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. 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

Media contact
Michael Busack: T 1 617 278 5107 / mbusack [​at​]

The Great Bare Mat & Constellation is made possible in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The Museum receives operating support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Gardner After Hours is supported in part by The Baupost Group, LLC. Thursday evening programming is supported by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.



Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum presents Raqs Media Collective
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
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