December 10, 2020 - Goethe-Institut New Delhi - Five Million Incidents
December 10, 2020

Goethe-Institut New Delhi

Courtesy Goethe-Institut New Delhi.

Five Million Incidents
In collaboration with Raqs Media Collective
April 1, 2019–December 10, 2020
Facebook / Instagram

Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan New Delhi
3, Kasturba Gandhi Marg
New Delhi - 110 001, India 

Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata
Park Mansions, Gate 4
57A, Park Street
Kolkata 700016, India

An incident is a fold in time—a quickened heart-beat, an epiphany, a flash of insight, an outbreak of goose-bumps, a moment of excitement, an occurrence, an encounter, a sighting, a memory; an incident is anything that transforms the way we live or think, a conversation that carries a surge in its wake, an event that makes us rethink everything. Millions of incidents can populate a duration, making it come alive as an embodiment of temporal plenitude. That plenitude is a ground for making things anew.

Over 20 months, approximately 100 artists created assemblies in Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan New Delhi and Kolkata under the auspices of Five Million Incidents (FMI). These opened up a remarkable possibility for thinking afresh on questions of artistic peer relationships, of occupations of time as art, of the blurring of lines between the ‘event’ of art and daily life, and of inventing fresh protocols of institutional custodianship. FMI lasted hours, days, weeks, and months through art works, actions, and performative moves that renewed and transformed terms of co-inhabitation of multiple presences.

Five Million Incidents is a mode of a conscious engagement with time.

Raqs Media Collective argues,

“There is an urgent need to produce milieus that welcome and sustain a multiplicity of practices with the comfort and confidence of durational, incremental, and layered artistic acts which build, and cascade. This momentum of accretive density leads to the proposition that artistic practices are best expressed in a perennial state. Their conjoining intensities—of mode and disposition—produce a ground for the emergence of new values of care and disorientation for a new contemporary.”

FMI presented a complex challenge for the creation and maintenance of an infrastructure for creative action by making the institutional spaces of the buildings of Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan in Delhi and Kolkata available for artistic play and intervention. It involved the scripting of novel invitational protocols and scenarios for gatherings, where a diversity of acts flourished and re-configured the experiential dynamics of experienced time. Time-shared becomes time multiplied.

The temporal architecture of FMI enfolded a range of artistic practices and publics within it in relationships of contact and reciprocity—creating a milieu where constellations of peer-ship blurred the separation between artist and enthusiast, and new declarative and deliberative forms could be tested. From the intimate companionship of willing strangers crossing personal and bodily boundaries in an atmosphere of trust, to the energy of mass movements galvanizing to defend citizenship, from solidarities across species to conversations across generations—Five Million Incidents absorbed many different kinds of energies to become a turbine for unfamiliar ideas and forms. This continued to happen even through Covid-19 lockdown time, when the actions migrated to an active online platform. The process actualized solidarity, making room for radical forms of companionship and convergence without performative pressure and aesthetic/occupational hierarchies.

Five Million Incidents whispered in libraries, grew in fungal gardens, cooked in kitchens, sewed blankets of shared warmth, dug in, stood its ground, pulped protocols of casteist exclusion, danced in drag, laughed, created archives of ephemera and transience, saw visions through eyes injured by violent state action, sang in many languages, saw Saturn with its glorious rings, and sometimes went into spaces where words cease to matter.

Five Million Incidents stretched across a time of extraordinary turbulence and upheaval in India and the world; it was a time of economic meltdown, social anxiety and the criminalization of dissent. Against this setting, the exploration of non-rivalrous and egalitarian modes of the acceptance of others as co-inhabitants in time, asserts the desirability of porous and intimate contexts of co-creation, yielding polymorphous fields made up of many minor movements and transformations.


Collegium: Raqs Media Collective, Vidya Shivdas, Sabih Ahmed, Rupali Gupte, Sanchayan Ghosh, with Leonhard Emmerling & Friso Maecker from Goethe-Institut.

Custodians (MMB): Farah Batool, Kanika Kuthiala, Sharmishta Sarker and Shweta Wahi.

Online platform design and conception: Aarushi Surana and Kaushal Sapre (

Reportage: Najrin Islam (

Documentation: Annette Jacob


Instagram: #FiveMillionIncidents

Goethe-Institut New Delhi
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