Raqs Media Collective
The Great Bare Mat & Constellation
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
20 September 2012 – 7 January 2013
The fall exhibition The Great Bare Mat & Constellation is comprised of new works displayed in two distinct gallery installations. The first features a carpet, a surface for the staging of conversations, displayed at the feet of The Vinegar Tasters, a two-fold 17th-century Japanese screen from the Gardner Museum’s collection.
The Great Bare Mat gains inspiration from two exquisite Han bronze bears in the collection of the Gardner Museum and mat-weights from China that served to weigh down carpets on which debaters would sit and argue philosophical points. Woven by a team of expert Bulgarian weavers of the Rodopski Kilim Carpet Factory, Bulgaria, the carpet features a repeated motif that indexes the constellation of the Great Bear against a background of signals, essays and conversations between three personal computers of the Raqs Media Collective.
The second, is a silent looped video projection that transforms, through a series of subtle alterations, the many photographs and film stills the artists recorded while in residence at the Gardner Museum in 2010.
The images of the projected video reflect onto an adjacent gallery wall, where a luminous array of shiny metal surfaces mirroring distinct narratives create a crescendo of accumulated images in the mind of the viewer, much like what happens while walking through the galleries of the Museum.
Also, The Great Bare Mat Exchange is a specially commissioned series of conversations consisting of four ‘exchanges’ in Calderwood Hall, each involving four speakers, with Artists-in-Residence Raqs Media Collective as moderators. These ‘exchanges’ will reflect on themes Raqs has chosen in response to their time spent in the Museum.