Raqs Media Collective
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Raqs Media Collective is a group of three media practitioners – Jeebesh Bagchi (New Delhi, 1965), Monica Narula (New Delhi, 1969) and Shuddhabrata Sengupta (New Delhi, 1968) – based in New Delhi. Raqs is best known for its contribution to contemporary art, and has presented work at most of the major international shows, from Documenta to the Venice Biennale; but the collective is active in a wide range of domains. The members of Raqs were co-curators of Manifesta 7, The European Biennial of Contemporary Art which took place in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Italy in the summer of 2008.
Raqs Media Collective was formed in 1992 after its three members graduated together from the prestigious Mass Communications Research Centre at the Jamia Milia Islamia university in Delhi. During the rest of the 1990s, Raqs made a number of documentary films, including In the Eye of the Fish (1997), Present Imperfect, Future Tense (1999) and a thirteen-part television series, Growing Up (1995).
In 1999, the members of Raqs Media Collective were invited to participate in the development of a strategy for the public broadcasting of documentary films in India, a discussion which led to the foundation of the Public Service Broadcasting Trust, still the main engine of documentary film production and viewership in India.
In 2001 Raqs co-founded and worked The Sarai Programme at CSDS (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies) at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies with Prof. Rvai Vasudevan and Prof. Ravi Sundaram as Directors of the program . The word sarai, or caravanserai, common to many Central Asian and Indian languages, refers to the shelters for travellers, sometimes large and extravagant, that traditionally dotted the cities and highways of that part of the world, facilitating travel and commerce but also enabling the exchange of stories and ideas. Through its institutional partnerships, the research fellowships it provides each year, its residencies for visiting artists, researchers and programmers, multiple email lists, and many informal collaborations, Sarai has developed a large network that allows it to accumulate a vast range of knowledge and opinion from across the world and to make it available in many forms, places and languages. "Cybermohalla", the network of media laboratories established by Sarai in collaboration with Anukur Society of Alternatives in Education an NGO working in Delhi for more than 25 years in less-developed areas of Delhi, has led to a collaboration between members of Sarai and groups of young writers, artists and thinkers from Ankur Society-run centres ; while collaborations with programmers have led to "OPUS", an online experiment in artistic production inspired by the working practices of the free software movement. Raqs stopped working (informally) at the Sarai program sometime in 2009 and moved to their studio outside CSDS.
Raqs started producing art as part of and with the help of the researchers and practitioners of the Sarai Program till the time they moved out of the Sarai Media Lab. In 2002, Raqs Media Collective based at Sarai/CSDS was invited to participate in Documenta 11, the major art show held every five years in Kassel, Germany. This was the beginning of the collective's ongoing engagement with the contemporary art world which has resulted in a collection of installation work. This work makes use of the group's background in film. In addition to Documenta and the Venice Biennale, their work has been shown at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, the Liverpool Biennial, the Guangzhou Triennial; a full list of their work can be found on their website. Sarai Media Lab where Raqs was based was awarded the Unesco-DigiArts Award at ISEA 2004, and in 2006 was invited to co-curate the show "On Difference" in the Kunstverein in Stuttgart, Germany.