Raqs Media Collective: Come Undone

22 Mar-4 May 2024
PV 21 Mar 2024, 6-8pm

Frith Street Gallery
London W1F 9JJ


Raqs Media Collective have been variously described as artists, curators, philosophical agents provocateurs, and catalysts of cultural processes. For their fifth exhibition at Frith Street Gallery, they present works centred around the form and idea of the knot – a leitmotif that moves backwards and forwards through their own history and practice.

Most recently, a series of glass knots, displayed throughout the gallery, emerge from Raqs’s film commission for the Jencks Foundation at The Cosmic House. This work, The Bicyclist Who Fell into a Time Cone (2023), is a poetic reflection on perceptions of a particular moment in history while moving through time, past and present, interrogating varied geographies of perceived centres and peripheries.

A knot is indicative of how closely something is bound, tied up, with itself, or with something else. As a marine measure of speed, it is also suggestive of how quickly, how speedily, something moves away. Knots link worlds of passages, transitions and departures. Knots that bind, knots that fray. Tears follow knots. 

We are the knot, and sometimes, we come undone. And then, it’s back to living again, to know how to thread the rope, to tie the knot, to read the wind, and to attend to care and the cosmos.

- Raqs Media Collective

Accompanying these fragile forms that heed both entanglement and its challenges, are a series of carpets titled Archipelago (2024). In blue and gold, their shape and colour echoes tears and the sea. Speaking, in their placement, of land and water bodies, they also connect to the fact that the human body is a water body.

The video Tears (are not only from weeping) (2021), consists of animated images of human tears taken using an electron microscope. The human teardrop is a unique and rare thing to look at up-close and the artist’s tears and laughter contain enough power to threaten constituted authority. When the body is moved, it can speak without words, it cannot be controlled. Its tidal surges, emerging sometimes as tears, connect us too to the world, and to the natural world, around us.

Eyes continue their intensity in the video Unruly Iris of Dissent (U.I.D 2) (2023), created 12 years after The Unlikely Intimacy of Digits (U.I.D) (2011), which animated a nineteenth century Bengali peasant’s handprint found in a London archive into a spectral count towards infinity. This new work magnifies a restless iris to continue its debate with the U.I.D (Unique Identification Database) that lies at the heart of the ‘Aadhar’ system which aims to turn every person resident in India into a number. The Unruly Iris of Dissent magnifies an iris scan into an immersive and restless digital projection that looks eye-to-eye with the power that wants to look a little too closely at human bodies.

A vinyl record of songs, along with the sound of now-extinct birds, as well as the knot-bird, provides a soundtrack for the whole exhibition.


Raqs Media Collective: Come Undone Press Release