Walker Art Center

We would like to share here with you a fragment from an e-mail interview that Rhizome did with Monica.[7]

On "Locatedness"

Rhizome: Are there unique Indian qualities to the media projects at Sarai? Or do you consider yourself part of a more global aesthetic?

Raqs: For us, the idea of a "uniquely Indian quality" is not really meaningful, or expressive of anything at all. India is the name of a nation-state, and "Indian" the term denoting nationality that happens to be entered in our passports, but it does not really suggest anything real or concrete in terms of culture to us; nor do the words French, or Italian, or Australian, or American, for that matter. Those who use the term "Indian Culture" usually mean a complex of values, attitudes, and tendencies that have been processed to mark out a space that is "uniquely" theirs, and which mirrors an obsession with territoriality. We are puzzled as to what (in cultural terms) can "uniquely" be the possession of any sets of people, in exclusivity. Culture is something that never respects borders and territories. It is infectious, nomadic, and volatile. We see culture, and cultural intervention, as an agile constellation of people, practices, connections, and objects that come into being when different disciplines, histories, and attitudes encounter each other in a global cultural space. This does not mean that we subscribe to the view that there are no cultural differences, but that cultural affinities and differences are not reducible to the mere notations of current political cartography.

The work that we do reflects the very specific conditions of a large, chaotic, industrial, cosmopolitan city that is connected globally through flows of information, finance, and industrial processes to the whole world. While we may hesitate to use the term Indian to describe our work, we are certain that our work speaks to the specific, simultaneously global and local realities of working and living in a city like Delhi and of engaging with the diverse and complex histories of modernity in South Asia, as reflected in media cultures and practices.

It is because we are strongly located in a city like Delhi that we also know that we are part of, and contribute to, a global domain of aesthetic and cultural practice.

Looking forward to all our "translocal" conversations.

for Raqs Media Collective

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From: Steve Dietz <steve.dietz@walkerart.org>
Date: Mon Mar 11, 2002 11:39pm
Subject: Re: Why "translocations"?


Thanks for this response about Sarai and Raqs' thinking about the interplay of nomadism and locatedness. I like very much the idea of a "home for nomads" and understand your issues with "Indian Culture," but I want to press a bit more on this interplay.

Is there a difference between "a city like Delhi" and Delhi? In other words, there are of course experiences, attitudes, and possibilities common to Delhi and Tokyo and Rio and perhaps to a lesser extent Minneapolis. Are there also meaningful differences?

Yukiko, I know you were involved in Knowbotic Research's IO_dencies project, which mapped urban flows in Tokyo and Rio, among other places.[8] Perhaps you can comment on your experience with this important project in terms of the interplay between the transglobal flows and the local locatedness of the participants.

7 Raqs interview, Rhizome, April 18, 2002.

8 See http://www.krcf.org.