16 Jun 2011 – 30 Sep 2011
Raqs Media Collective is a collective of artists, media practitioners, curators, researchers, editors and catalysts of cultural processes. Their work, which has been exhibited widely in major international spaces, locates them in the intersections of contemporary art, historical enquiry, philosophical speculation, research and theory – often taking the form of installations, online and offline media objects, performances and encounters.
Lisbon, at the heart of the Portugese maritime empire, was once an enormous depot for the trade, exchange and display of exotic animals, an index of the empire's globalreach. It was also perhaps in a Lisbon garden that Albrecth Dürer came across the Indian rhinoceros named Gainda sometime in 1515 that he would immortalize in his woodcut titled 'Rhinoceros'. Gardens and menageries have a historic connection, and most collections of exoticanimals began as the side attractions of historic gardens. Gardens have memories.
The Gulbenkian Gardens stand on a piece of land that was once used for a fun‐fair. What is now a quiet and serene garden, an organic machine designed for leisurely contemplation, would once have been a busy, bustling, noisy place site for the carnivalesque, for the slaking of curiosities and flirtation, for the pursuit of thrills, for getting lost in crowds of revellers. Our memories of fair grounds revolve around carousels, around whirling menageries of exotic, gaily painted, caparisoned animals. These creatures, some of them chimeras, transported us to other worlds with their dancing moves in the time that it took for a carousel to complete a single revolution. Stepping down from an a one horned rhinoceros meant abandoning the sovereignty of the imagination in exchange for a firm foothold on the ground of the quotidian.