N E W  M E D I A

The Future
and their Future

An Interview with Raqs Media Collective

Written by Nicola Trezzi

Raqs Media Collective, “A Day in the Life of Kiribati”, 2014
Clock, nameplate, tape
Asamayavali/Untimely Calendar, National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi (2014)

Multidisciplinary, intellectual, open and yet deeply rooted in complex ways of thinking, acting and responding to the fabric of reality, the practice of Raqs Media Collective represents a unique phenomenon in the field of contemporary visual art, one in which “the visual” becomes an expanded field, encompassing cinema, philosophy and science. Nicola Trezzi interviewed the Collective about their practice, how they categorize it, their connection to India – their place of origin and continued base of operation – and about the future and their future.

Nicola Trezzi: The word “Raqs” defines the state of ecstasy attained by whirling dervishes. It is the same word in Persian, Arabic and Urdu, a fact that generates a lot of intercultural reflections. On the other hand RAQs could also stand for the abbreviation of Rarely Asked Questions, which echoes the Internet and its functional jargon. How did you come up with this name? Which one of these two completely different associations came first?

Raqs Media Collective: The name came to us during a conversation over noodle soup in front of a Chinese food truck next to a petrol pump near the Sufi shrine of Hazrat Nizamuddin in Central Delhi, in the fall of the year 1992. We had just been to the shrine, and watched an old man, whirl, like a dervish, in its courtyard. His kinetic intensity, and energy, was riveting, as was the tranquility of his countenance. That state of kinetic fullness experienced in the entirety of the turning body is called raqs in Arabic. Even the earth performs its ‘raqs’ on its axis. We spent some time talking to each other about the relationship between restlessness and contemplation, and it seemed to resonate with the state of mind we found ourselves in while we stayed in and out of conversation with each other, and with the world. That state of restlessness, its energy, and the contemplative ecstasy it can bring to mind hasn’t left us. The name came distilled with many associations: a comfort with restlessness, a curiosity to see what happens when that restlessness takes on a collective dimension, when you have three body-minds spinning, colliding, drifting, and then being wound up again. A name is also needed when you make a collective bank account! Some years later, when we were beginning to get interested in the argot of computer speak, a friend told us how RAQS (rarely asked questions), the opposite of FAQS (frequently asked questions), were sometimes tagged on to software usage manuals. The idea of being a “RAQS depository” was appealing. We have an instruction-based performance work titled The Bureau of Raqs & Faqs in which the Bureau of Faqs is always ‘out to lunch’ while at the Bureau of Raqs you get to invent questions for already given answers.

Raqs Media Collective, “Bureau of Raqs and Faqs”, 2015
Found furniture, index cards, words, plaques, electronic word displays, text and a scenario
Museo Universitario Arte Contemporaneo (MUAC), Mexico City (2015)

NT: Linking your work to a broader category of artists, or “artist/s” as I define this ‘breed’, it seems that through the act of creating such a name – and to Raqs we should also add “Media Collective” – you distance yourself from two main “pillars” of art making in relationship to authorship: the first one is about giving up the idea of the artist as a singularity, which has been an assumption since, roughly, the Renaissance; the second one sees a direct relationship between the practice of the artist/s and the signature of the artist/s, in which usually, although there are few historical examples like Valie Export, the signature always gives details about the identity of an artist and never about the practice of an artist. Was it a conscious decision? Can you share insights in this regard?

Raqs: Our early sense of collective self is tied to the formation we had in the milieu of documentary film practitioners in the early 1990s. That milieu, unlike art house cinema or the visual arts or literary formations, was not too concerned with signature and oeuvre. The discussion was about ethics, the nature of the flux that got termed “real,” an international traffic of themes, political contingencies and infrastructures refracting on to documentary practice, insurgent worlds and words and then the counter-insurgencies of domination that surrounded the making of the documentary image. For us, the documentary image was always contested and this shaped our thinking. To us, “practice” conjures a contentious field of how to be operative with an alertness to the present. Practice was a site of intense theoretical debate too, and friendships were put to the test through these questionings. In this sense, we argue about ourselves as containing multitudes. And, over time, with research and reflection on the histories of authorship and signature, we have understood how unstable and contentious the solitary genius phenomenon is and how, like many fictions, it emerged from a particular time and a specific cultural-ritual formation. Its rule across time is waning.

In our partnership deed (written in November 1992), a legal-financial requirement to exist as an economic entity, we had given ourselves a purpose, and a range: “documentaries, shorts and features of varying length on film and video, and other works…”; at that time, we did not have a clear idea of what these other works would, or even could, be. However, our understanding of the term media was capacious enough, even then, so as to leave room for “other works” and even how they would work, was in the realm of the unknown. In this sense, both “media” and “practice” are words in anticipation for the intermediaries that they become, as our thoughts and our conversations travel across, between, and through different media.

Raqs Media Collective, “Tears (are not only from weeping)”, 2021
Video loop, LED Panel
Laughter of Tears, Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany (2021)

NT: Thinking about all these categories, terms and denominations, it would be interesting to hear how the context of India and its related art scene influenced all the aforementioned. It seems to me that what you do and the way you do it represents a unique case, at least in the field of art (not in the field of research, or science.) Would you agree with that? What was the reaction of the Indian artistic community when Raqs Media Collective emerged?

At the time when we emerged as a practice, there were attempts by other documentary filmmakers to work as collectives. The notion was not entirely alien. But the idea of collective practice in contemporary art, when we entered that world in the early aughts, was decidedly alien. There had been “movements” – formations in which different individual artists shared common ground based on some understanding, ideology, or sense of being that they held in common and asserted in public life. A “movement” works through a high-intensity coming together of individuals, their works, their stances, their positions. Our sense of who we were, or are, was and still is, completely different. In our case, the work of art happens at the intersection of our wills and a graded intensity of living. Our first major art work in this sense was the making of Sarai, in collaboration with an urbanist and a film historian. Sarai was an adventure in how to think across practices and disciplines, and how to be in public life all the time. With and through Sarai we understood that work gets created through a process of collision and distillation of wills cathected to each other. Sarai hosted many fellowships and discussions, supported exhibitions and published artist writings. But we were not seen as artists. The collective entity of media practitioners that called itself Raqs, triggered hesitations in acknowledging whether its work legitimately fell within the rubric of art. People kept looking for a biography, a self-ethnography, a turn within art historical legibility, or, in short, a signature. There was also some hostility, as our trajectory was not from an art school but from film. Over the last two decades, though, much has changed. We are seen now as occasional transgressors or experimenters, and less as trespassers. The enthusiasm for many of the initiatives that we have since worked on lies hugely with younger artists, and they participate in and enjoy such moves. The last two decades have seen a seismic change in the terms of engagement within contemporary art here. And the biggest transformation from the early 2000s is that there are so many more artists today representing themselves as collectives. This is true for both here, as well as everywhere else. Something in the air has certainly shifted.

Raqs Media Collective, “Dohas for Doha”, 2019
Five Videos, LED screens, variable dimensions
Still More World, Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha (2019)

NT: Before we go into specific projects, I would like you to tell us how you came up with the following three categories: “practice,” “para-practice,” and “infra-practice.” What goes where? Can you name a project that would fit two of them or even all of them?

Over the last two decades we have had incredibly dense associative engagements. We needed to bring this into conceptual focus. Associative engagements are relegated to the background of an event in the way artistic practices usually get narrated. We wanted to bring into view that a zone of extension of the very ground of our practice is driven by associative alignments and affinities. With the prefixes “para” and “infra” we are able to situate a positional movement. The word “para” gestures to a relationship to that which stands beside, or at a tangent to. “Para-practices” are the writings that we do and conversations that we enter into, alongside. It could be the making of a Sourcebook for staging public discursive moments for a plural-knowledge world, or a Curation encapsulating a processual duration along with so many others to re-apprehend the world, or a Studio with students to reimagine the power of margins or thresholds. “Infra” is often glossed as ‘below’ a threshold. In this aspect, we would say that we might be the ones in conversation with or we might have initiated or instigated a process, but we see the authorial impulse as being distributed; as a matter of fact, it may not even coalesce into an entity. Here our practice folds with and within other practices, develops a flow that is in dialogue, yet keeps moving with its own momentum. The associative density that these practices acquire over long periods is unscripted. A cursory glance at the Sarai Readers (01 to 09) over a decade will show how they attracted authors and artists from so many parts of the world, from inner cities to insulated laboratories, from hospital Intensive Care Units to the raging fields of protests. This sediment is what propels the world around us. Practice is the “daily work” (work as verb) of art. It represents the sum of all the moves – practical, conceptual, affective, cognitive, philosophical, analytical and aesthetic – that occupies/de-occupies the state of our collective triangulation at any given point of time. Being contingent, this practice is a shape-shifting thing, prone to surprising itself as much as it surprises others. Like a mycelial inhabitation, indeterminate and unbounded, it expands.

Raqs Media Collective, “Escapement”, 2009
Installation with 27 clocks, high glass aluminium with LED lights, four flat screen monitors, video and audio looped, dimensions variable
Frith Street Gallery, London (2009)

NT: Speaking of your practice, I would like to hear about two of your most iconic works: Marks (2011) and Escapement (2009); while the first playfully engages with the sign of communism – the hammer and sickle – and the author of Capital – Karl Marx –, the second brings together time and feelings; on one hand, time seems to be the most objective notion ever conceived by humankind; on the other hand, feelings are the most difficult to define; and yet your work ultimately argues that this is true and yet its opposite is also true. Can you tell us how these works came into being?

Raqs: Marks riffs off the hammer and sickle sign that we have seen scrawled and painted on the walls of our cities since childhood, and condenses a relationship to the signs that we have inherited in – literally – a burst of light and reflection. The reversed question mark, and the inverted exclamation, seem to us to suggest attitudes that require us to ask questions of questions, and register a pause to consider a moment of extraordinary awareness (the reason for exclamation) with a degree of affectionate irony. The intersection of these two attitudes, which marry affect to doubt, affection to questioning, are ways of approaching the legacies we have inherited. As for Escapement, it stems from our ongoing dialogue with the figure of time. Escapement invokes clockwork, emotions, geography, fantasy and time zones to ask what is contemporaneity – what does it mean to be living in these times, in these quickening hours, these accumulating minutes, these multiplying seconds, here, now? Escapement is a horological, or clockmaking term. It denotes the mechanism in mechanical watches and clocks that governs the regular motion of the hands through a “catch and release” device that both releases and restrains the levers that move the hands for hours, minutes and seconds. Like the catch and release of the valves of the heart, allowing for the flow of blood between the chambers of the heart, which sets up the basic rhythm of life, the escapement of a watch regulates our sense of the flow of time. The continued pulsation of our hearts, and the ticking of a clock, denote our liberty from an eternal present.

With each heartbeat, with each passing second, they mark the here and now, promise the future and remember the resonance of the heartbeat that just ended. It is our heart that tells us that we live in time. 

Raqs Media Collective, “Marks”, 2011
Acrylic, MDF, red LEDs, electrical wires, gold mylar sheet
Headquarters of French Communist Party, 2, Place du Colonel Fabien, Paris (2011); Madrid (2014); Mexico (2015); K21, Dusseldorf, Germany (2018)

NT: Another work I would like you to discuss is The Course of Love (2019), which seems to me the most interesting response to Kosuth’s seminal conceptual works; can you describe its elements and how context – the Setouchi Triennale in Honjima, Japan – influenced its creation?

Raqs: Rivers run dry if they cannot change. So it is with love. It has to irrigate a wider landscape than just what it had to run on when it began. We did not know much about Kosuth at the time when we made this work. But we did know about rivers and boats. Coming from a river valley civilization, we know something about rivers, about boats, and between our mother-tongues, Punjabi and Bengali, we think we have the best river songs and love songs. But for this work, which is sited in Japan, we found a thousand-year-old Japanese love poem that had us by the throat when we read it:

wataru funa-bito / the boatman lost the rudder.
kaji-wo tae / the boat is now adrift
yukue mo shiranu / not knowing where it goes.
koi no michi kana / is this the course of love?

Sone-no Yoshitada (10th Century CE)

A real boat cradles an “ideal boat.” Just as a moment in life cradles a drifting idea. Love is held by the memory of love. An image is held by itself, afire. In this sculpture with found objects and lenticular fold, we play with light, the geometry of folds, and the optical properties of materials to offer a representation that is as pared down to essentials as a child’s idea of a boat. The Course of Love brings to mind everything from Yoshitada’s evocation of the course of love to the image of a boat on fire in the sea.

In some ways this work is a floating riddle. It reveals more than it conceals with its title. It evokes the childhood D-I-Y-ness of the paper boat that we have all set sail on little streams at one point or another – and by doing so, it points to both the fragility as well as the endurance of paper boats as semaphores to time. Every time you sail a paper boat, you are setting a message on an unknown course. It is more important for us that the message travels than it getting immediately deciphered. It can actually add meaning to itself as it moves, making for the possibility of denser interpretation. Becoming a floating figure of speech, a paper-boat is an instance of the invention of meaning.

Sometimes, like paper boats adrift, we talk to each other in riddles. Sometimes they are difficult, even for us to understand, until they makes sense in a flash. Like sandhya bhasha or Twilight Language, the playful, and sometimes scary language of riddles that is part of our shared cultural inheritance.

Raqs Media Collective, “The Course of Love”, 2019
Sculpture using faceted lenticular panels, with Found Boat
Setouchi Triennale, Honjima, 2019

NT: Speaking about your para-practice, I would like you to give us, if possible, the ‘exegesis’ of “Fact, Facticity and the Imagination,” which, if I may say, seems to me the closest to a manifesto of what you do, believe and ultimately are as artist/s. How did you draft this text, how did you present it, what was the reaction, again in India, due to some of its content, and outside of India?

Raqs: We have never made ourselves beholden to a manifesto. Maybe that’s how we survived, because we never ‘betrayed’ our own manifesto. We never had the opportunity to do so. The absence of a manifest ensured that. Fact, Facticity and the Imagination condenses a state of our thinking, holding within it both the desire to engage in forensics and its exactitude, as well as the urge not to be contained or exhausted by it. One of our perennial concerns has been the relationship of qualities and quantities. We understand the propensity to turn every quality, everything intangible and ineffable, like a human life, into a number, as part of the arithmetic of fatality. Art admits to the uncountable, and this essay is a result of the lessons we have learnt from art while trying to understand the urge, particularly of state and state-driven systems, to count and classify everything.

The history of this text takes us back to some of our earliest concerns - the measurement of bodies, and the imperative to harvest usable facts from the measurement of bodies. The text is a meditation on the problems that arise from this endeavor. It is an argument for the worth of the immeasurable. Citizenship itself has become a function of the counting of heads, and creation of different kinds of numbers. This is a legacy of colonialism, but it has been robustly taken forward by the post-colonial state.

Raqs Media Collective, “Utsushimi”, 2017
Double Image / Token / Emanation Materialized Architectural Drawing in Illuminated Wireframe
Oku-Noto Triennale, Suzu City, Japan (2017 - ongoing)

The essay did not find much resonance in India when it was first published in the Documents of Contemporary Art series (published by Whitechapel) in the book Archive (published in) and in one of the volumes of the Sarai Reader. We think we were a little ahead of the public discourse on identification technologies, surveillance and the anti-democratic turn in India at the time. We were thought of as ‘techno-fetishists’ for a while, even by our liberal, not-so-liberal, and leftist friends. Things are different now: the technology of counting and surveillance is at the heart of politics in India today, as we always said it would be. That says an interesting thing about the relationship between art and politics. Sometimes artists sniff the wind quicker than others can. Now students that we encounter (and not just art students) and young people involved in dissident political currents in India keep coming up with this text as being important to their understanding of the current moment. And they have read it because they could download it, for free, from the Sarai Reader, where it had also been published. Many years after it was written and published, the text continues to have vitality today.

“In the Open or in Stealth”, 2018
Exhibition curated by Raqs Media Collective,
MACBA Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2018-2019)

NT: Can you describe the process behind Seepage, an anthology of your texts published by Sternberg Press in 2010? Are you planning a new anthology after more than 10 years? Would you edit it or give it to someone else to edit and select?

Raqs: The essays in Seepage are about pirates and squatters, hackers and de-occupiers of factories, border-crossers and shape-shifters, about insistent pursuits that crack hard held borders and produce images, spectral or premonitory, of possible other times, another place, in anticipation of a communing for a common world. It is interspersed by 1001 invocations of the granular and ‘metastizing’ power of capital. It has texts as ideas, texts as annotations, and texts as performances. The diligent reader will discover that although printed on paper, the book is a kind of hyper-text, with different parts linking together. You can read the book backwards, forwards, or in a zig zag fashion - switching texts, switching fragments, or even opening random pages at a time and reading against or with the pagination. Seepage is at rest now. Lots of new ideas have taken new forms in new texts. We always try to make them available on our website – branching off of the ‘para-practices’ page.

Raqs Media Collective, “Seepage”, 2010
Cover page
Stenberg Press (2010)

NT: Speaking of your infra-practice, I would like you to focus on Sarai, which you established in 2000 with faculty members of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) in Delhi. This is where you channel your work as researchers. Can you speak about it?

Raqs: Sarai was a capacious urban jungle! It sprang from a simple need that we (and our friends, Ravi Sundaram and Ravi Vasudevan, both theorists, one of new media in the city, and the other, of the history of cinema) felt for a platform where, practitioners, artists, technicians, urbanists, writers, poets, activists and theorists could meet and allow themselves to be transformed by the encounters they had. In retrospect, it is difficult to find a single way of defining what we did at Sarai, except to say that we welcomed the unexpected. It enabled a new way of speaking of the urban and the media condition. Sarai’s critical intervention was to think through the question of intellectual production, its infrastructure, and the politics of threshold. The engagement was to take the authorial as a claim and not as an entitlement. Many people from varied locations articulated and argued how to create, disseminate, translate, transform, and dissent. Through a combination of online and offline modes Sarai innovated on a range of intermedial forms and enunciatory practices. Okwui Enwezor loved Sarai for its persistent practice of producing knowledge-producers, and making knowledge a site of combat. With Sarai we published nine volumes of the Sarai Reader, ran a fellowship program that brought in more than 600 practitioners, artists and researchers to initiate projects, created self-regulated media labs in working class neighborhoods in Delhi, held conferences that would found entire areas of research into the politics of technology, surveillance, intellectual property and its discontents, and actively pursued open possibilities of cultural creativity. It seems like a bit of a dream right now, but we can say that there are many energetic figures in culture, politics and media in India today who have crossed paths with Sarai. Such an initiative would be impossible to replicate in today’s context. But, hopefully, it will inspire future practitioners to shape other kinds of experiments with collectivity and publicness.

Yokohama Triennale 2020, Artistic Directors: Raqs Media Collective
Artwork by Nick Cave, “Kinetic Spinner”, 2016
Photo by Otsuka Keita

NT: Until now we discussed artmaking, writing and researching and now I would like you to hear how you engage with exhibition making (a term I prefer over “curating”); can you speak about how you exhibit the work of other artists? What is your approach, considering that you are most of the time “on the other side” (being invited to exhibit)? Would you organize an exhibition for one single artist? Who would this artist be? Within the context of group exhibitions: Do you prefer to commission new works or select existing works? Can you say a few words about your project for Manifesta?

Raqs: On the occasion of “Manifesta,” we were given an abandoned aluminum factory to work in. And this prompted us to think about the ‘residue’ of industrial production – what gets left behind. This is the ‘rest’, the ‘remainder’, the ‘dregs’ of capital. But the word ‘rest’ can also mean a moment of pause, and recuperation of that which is left behind. We played with both senses of the word to come up with the idea of “the rest of now,” which also became the title of the exhibition. When making exhibitions, it could be said that we work like detectives, building a ‘case’ from the clues and traces we find. Our invitation to the artists we want to work with is a proposal to join us in this process. To make discoveries, parallel to ours. The exhibition is a diagram that holds the image of these processes in play. We want exhibitions, especially recurring exhibitions, to be moments of generation. For so many artists, including ourselves, commissions support the practice, and we think exhibition-making is a possibility towards ensuring that new works can be made. But there is also a pleasure in rediscovery, and in the re-playing of works in entirely new contexts. Recently, for a group exhibition we curated at MACBA in Barcelona, entitled “In the Open or in Stealth: The Unruly Presence of an Intimate Future” we exhibited the medical and scientific drawings of Santiago Ramon y Cajal, the pioneering and visionary Spanish neuroscientist who drew the most exquisite renditions of neural pathways. There were many contemporary artists in that show, some of them were making new work that was going to be shown for the first time, but then there was also this long-dead scientist, whose work was very alive. It was in this show that we started working with an awareness of “sources” as part of our curatorial methodology. By this we mean a toolkit of prompts that we shared with the artists we invited. This was a method to start a conversation that would take us in different directions. The navigation of this path reveals us to ourselves, to our colleagues, and to the world. We would like to answer the rest of your question by borrowing an answer we gave in another interview (as yet unpublished) to the art journalist Heniz Norbert Jocks. In it, we say:

“Our curatorial practice does not concern itself with the elaboration of a set theme or topic through the arrangement of works that ‘illustrate’ it. Nor do we create exhibitions with the intention to make people aware of that which they did not know. These can be worthy motives for exhibition making, it is just that they are not ours.

Our practice works its way out through a constant interplay between what we call ‘sources’ and their flux. Think of this as the course of a river. A river can have a ‘source’, or more than one set of ‘sources’. In its journey to the sea, it divides into tributaries, and is joined by the streams of rivers that begin in other ‘sources’. There are riverine islands. The river changes course, ebbs and flows. Finally it meets the sea, often creating a complex deltaic form.

We think of exhibition making somewhat along these lines. We identify ‘sources’ that interest us, these often lie at the intersection of the space we are working in, and ideas, concepts, images or states of feeling that seems to us to be pertinent to that space. This constellation is arrived at, partly by diligent research into the history, fables, topography, economy of a particular space, or a network, and partly by instinct, and partly by the constant churning within our practice of the things we are thinking and feeling.

Then, we elaborate the sources, enter into conversations with the artists and practitioners that we want to engage with, and this process leads to the formation of multiple streams and tributaries. Material – in the form of ideas, images, correspondence – ‘flows’ between us, the ‘source’ and our interlocutors. And this leads to a layering of the organic curatorial intelligence of the process. (Think of the way in which a river carries soil and silt, depositing it on flood plains, making it possible for them to be fecund, etc.)

In this way, the continued interaction between the ‘source’ and the streams creates a landscape, a terrain, of the exhibition. This terrain takes shape in our mind, and then is translated, as a process that can actually inhabit the space and time of the exhibition”.

Raqs Media Collective, “Blood of Stars: A walk in ten scenes”, 2013
Single screen, video
Extracts from a Future History, Lulea (2013)

NT: My last question is: What is the future of Raqs Media Collective? Do you see yourself emphasizing one aspect of your practices over the others? Do you imagine Raqs Media Collective continuing in perpetuity, carried by other individuals?

Raqs: When we began, as Raqs, in 1992, we had no idea of what the future would be. The future came to us a year, a month, a day, an hour at a time. It still does. Raqs Media Collective is the continuing contingency that arose from three individuals, and persists, in that fashion. It makes no claim on immortality. However, barring the unlikely event of an airplane that all three of us are on, which somehow drops from the sky and crashes into a mountain or falls into the sea, it is unlikely that all three of us will exit the game at exactly the same time. In our partnership deed of 1992, we had written, as point 14 of the charter: “14. The firm shall not stand dissolved upon death, retirement or insolvency of any partner but upon dissolution.” That means, that even if one or the other of us dies, before the other two, Raqs will continue with whosoever is left. That is also the case if one of us decides to leave. Those who remain will constitute Raqs. But Raqs can dissolve only if the three of us decide to dissolve it, not otherwise. Raqs will cease, when we cease. Raqs is what comes out of the three of us, now and in the past and, as long as our bodies and minds can take it, in the future. Now, unlike when we formed as Raqs, there is also a history to the practice. So the future sometimes emerges from the things that we had ourselves forgotten. Recently, while doing a bit of spring cleaning in our studio, we opened an old suitcase and found stacks of papers, notes and photographs from the earliest days. Some of these pointed to a sea voyage we took in our first year to an archipelago in the Bay of Bengal. The curiosities that were born on that voyage are still with us. They beckon to us both from the past, as well as from the future. The question “how do we deal with the urge to fix an identity as well as the impulse to change over time?,” which we began asking while thinking about the practice of anthropological photography in the Andaman Islands (we were trying to make a film on that subject, which is still not yet made) can now be asked about our practice as well.

We are changing, growing, our minds are traveling in lateral directions, sometimes in tandem with each other, sometimes getting derailed and then catching up. In these diversions and detournements, there are many futures lurking. Our work is changing. We see new concerns, an active engagement with questions of energy and vitality, the reconstitution of the commons (not just in a material sense, but also more intangibly, as in a commons of what is “between us in the air”). We think a lot nowadays about toxins and toxicity, about the disappearance and appearance of forms of life, and organic connections between life forms. We are listening more to the planet and what we think it whispers. We are beginning to be more frank with each other about many things we were silent about. All this will change us. It will make our futures grow wilder, like a forest.


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