The Laughter of Tears

RAQS MEDIA COLLECTIVE at Kunstverein Braunschweig


Raqs Media Collective, Tears (are not only from weeping), 2021, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
From September 18, 2021 until November 28, 2021

Raqs Media Collective is based in New Delhi, where it was founded in 1992, and is considered to be one of the most dynamic ensembles working in contemporary art. Presently, they are reflecting on the continuing turbulence of their city, where challenges to sovereign power are nurtured on a daily basis.

The work Raqs Media Collective have made for Kunstverein Braunschweig is centered on the confrontation between laughter and authority as an axis the exhibition is built around. It expands on the collective’s curiosity about Till Eulenspiegel, a comic figure from medieval German folklore who originates from Braunschweig, shifting into a meta-gesture that becomes tangible as an action, an attitude, and a call to gather. Connecting the rooms of Villa Salve Hospes, the work combines subversive tropes from many histories and traditions in both East and West. It constitutes a fulcrum for possibilities of gathering, and a vector for the cheerful contagion of high spirits.
When we are in the sonic range of the flightpaths of a flock of birds returning to a roosting site, we become intimate with their together-ness.
When people are awestruck by wonder, or tickled into laughter, or moved to tears, they momentarily transmit to each other before, between, and beyond language. Such transmissions need no translation to be contagious.
They glow, lit from within. A patchwork of shared fabric and feeling offers the outline of customary forms of illumination but fleeting epiphanies and crowded memories extend this patchwork to a flow between celebration and mourning. Within this coloured glow it is possible to admit that tears are now also extra- human.
This illuminated suspension equally shelters and shadows a dissenter’s disobedience, parsed by the sovereign through accusations and bail orders, producing a halfway-life in limbo between coercion, surrender, defiance, and heresy.
An owl and a donkey interpolate themselves, indicating the simultaneity of leaving and returning. Tyll of Braunschweig teaches us the trick of being on both sides of a mirror at once, reflected and reflecting, and Nasreddin of Akşehir shows us how to face the future riding backwards on a gentle, fearless donkey.
Disappearing ephemera, history unmade or in the making, the scene that unfolds in the corner of the eye: all these matter. And notes taken of pictures that whisper and speak in tongues can move us to tears sometimes.
text: RAQS MEDIA COLLECTIVE

Raqs Media Collective, Tears (are not only from weeping), 2021, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, The Coarse Fabric of Being Human, 2021, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, Ferment (splinter), 2021, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, Ferment (splinter), 2021, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, The Sovereign, and its Company, 2021, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, The Sovereign, and its Company, 2021, Detail, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, Chromachron, 2021, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, Comic Contempt, 2021, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, Comic Contempt, 2021, Detail, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, Ferment (shatter), 2021, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, The Sovereign, and its Company, 2021, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, Ferment, 2021, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, Ferment, 2021, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, A Gathering of Birds, 2021, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, Tears (are not only from weeping), 2021, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, Ferment (splendour), 2021, Detail, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, Bestiary, 2021, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, Bestiary, 2021, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, Bestiary, 2021, Detail, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, Not Yet at Ease, 2018, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, The Blood of Stars, 2017, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, Intimate Intimidation, 2021, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, Reindeer, 2017, „31 Days”, 2020, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark
Raqs Media Collective, Three Shadows, 2018, Installation View at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Courtesy the Raqs Media Collective and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark