The Blood of Stars

Raqs Media Collective

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Raqs Media Collective, The Blood of Stars (still), 2017.

Staff picks The Blood of Stars
Raqs Media Collective

12 Minutes

Staff Picks

January 6–February 2, 2021

Join us on e-flux Video & Film for a screening of Raqs Media Collective’s The Blood of Stars (2017), on view from Wednesday, January 6 through Tuesday, February 2, 2021. The film is presented together with Raqs Media Collective’s Strikes at Time (2011) as part of the monthly series Staff picks.

The Blood of Stars invites us to think about the relation between the presence of iron—a fugitive from the stars, sleeping deep inside the earth—and the veins of warm-blooded mammals. Meanwhile, it reads meteorites for clues about the stains at the edge of every sharp blade that cuts into flesh, and registers resonances that ricochet between mining, militarism, and the mutations that mark a remote landscape.

Voices, of a woman and a child, converse and detail the presence of iron in the blood, the rusting of life and metals, and the sharp edge of a question. The cave folds in on itself in the footage, airplanes fallen from the sky rust, reindeer run, and a snowman waits for aliens. A poet states facts, in Hindi: “All the iron theirs to mine, the razor’s edge alone is mine.”

While thinking about and making The Blood of Stars, we were interested in how a substance like iron, which is in our blood, under the ground, and is ejected from the debris of dying stars becomes a marker of time, as in the “Iron Age,” and a key substance in the formation of implements for everything from agriculture to war.

Our research took us to a working iron mine which produces some of the purest iron ore in the world, deep inside the arctic circle, in Northern Sweden. We learnt about how energy for the mine leads to a damming of rivers, creating obstructions in the path of nomadic reindeer herds. The reindeers on the earth, like the reindeer in the sky, lose their way.

During the making of this work, first exhibited as an immersive installation inside an abandoned military base in a cave system inside a mountain, we were able to obtain footage of a year’s worth of the sky with the northern lights over Sweden from an astronomical observatory and also handle and situate a fragment of an iron laden meteorite that is actually half a billion years older than the earth itself.

A curiosity about space, or about the deep oceans, or the interior of the earth, expands our ways of thinking. It wrests it free from narrow, sectarian and nationalist boxes, and provide a more capacious frame within which to think questions that have deep political and ethical implications.

For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

Nature & Ecology
Extractivism, Environment, Outer Space, Video Art
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Raqs Media Collective was formed in 1992 in Delhi, India by Monica Narula, Jeebesh Bagchi, and Shuddhabrata Sengupta. The word “raqs” in several languages denotes an intensification of awareness and presence attained by whirling, turning, being in a state of revolution. Raqs Media Collective take this sense to mean “kinetic contemplation” and a restless entanglement with the world, and with time. Raqs enlists objects such as an early-modern tiger-automata from Southern India, or a biscuit from the Paris Commune, or a cup salvaged from an ancient Mediterranean shipwreck, to turn them into devices to sniff and taste time. Devices are deployed thus in order to undertake historical subterfuge and philosophical queries. Raqs practices across several media; making installation, sculpture, video, performance, text, lexica, and curation. The members of Raqs Media Collective live and work in Delhi, India. In 2001, they co-founded the Sarai program at CSDS New Delhi and ran it for a decade, where they also edited the Sarai Reader series. They were the Artistic Directors for the recently concluded Yokohama Triennale 2020, Afterglow, where they developed sources around toxicity, care, and the luminosity of friendship.


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