Life Between Borders: The Nomadic Life of Curators and Artists + Turtles All The Way Down by Basim Magdy

Address: Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, 91 A, Rani Baug, Veer Mata Jijbai Bhonsle Udyan, Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Road, Byculla East, Byculla, Bombay: 400027
Date: Thursday, April 10, 2014
Tea: 6 pm  I  Screening: 6.30 pm  I  Book launch, talk and discussion: 6.45 – 7.40 pm  I  Repeat screening: 7.45 – 8 pm

Book launch of Life Between Borders: The Nomadic Life of Curators and Artists (apexart, 2013) followed by a talk by Gitanjali Dang and a discussion with Girish Shahane 

Life Between Borders: The Nomadic Life of Curators and Artists considers the consequences of frequent relocation and travel in the art world. Edited by Steven Rand and Heather Felty this collection of essays is the fourth title in apexart’s ongoing book series, which was initiated in 2006.

As arts professionals and artists relocate more often and on a larger, global scale, it is no wonder that identity and satisfaction are bound up with the consequences of this mobility. We move so easily, and freely, around the world that it has become normal practice to travel to new countries for a job, living somewhere temporarily, with the expectation that we will readily adapt. How do we reconcile our own cultural identity and these issues as our exposure to and immersion into other cultures increases?

As one of the 10 contributors to the book, Khanabadoshi Gitanjali Dang will present from her essay The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Moving. During the course of the presentation Gitanjali will also extrapolate on some of the themes in the essay, which have since gone become integral to the ecosystem of ideas developed in relation to Khanabadosh.

Turtles All the Way Down (2009) by Basim Magdy

Turtles All The Way Down gets its title from an incident made popular by Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, 1988. The book begins with the theoretical physicist and cosmologist narrating an encounter, which transpired at a public lecture on astronomy delivered by an eminent thinker, possibly Bertrand Russell.

The anecdote: …a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.” The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?” “You’re very clever, young man, very clever”, said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!”

Basim’s video starts as an attempt to look at what we understand of the universe and in the process explores a monstrous and unfathomable entity that continues to confound our imagination. In doing so Basim reflects on the ceaseless cyclicality found all around us and draws our attention to the regressive argument, also known as infinite regress, where each proof requires further proving and this can go on ad infinitum or ad nauseam, whichever strikes first.

Infinite regress is pervasive and can be detected across the board, from the far-reaches of the universe all the way down to the metaphysical level. This in turn also provides definition to the micro-macro schema, wherein similar patterns resonate across the cosmos.

The video bookends the evening because it shares extensive common ground—the centrality of the turtle metaphor being a case in point—with Khanabadosh. It functions as a playful interjection into the ecosystem of ideas, such as opposition to anthropocentrism and plurality, on which Khanabadosh thrives. Art is, no doubt, about dialogue and future imaginaries, this thinking is the focus of Khanabadosh and consequently Gitanjali’s essay The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Moving.

Aside from the highlighting the problematic of infinite regress the repeat screenings have been deliberately deployed within the structure of the evening so as to suggest that the repeat playing out of future imaginaries too then is a constituency of the macro-micro schema, which propels and compels us to repeat and continue until a time—if such a time were ever possible—the impasse be broken.

About the artist: Basim Magdy was born in Assiut, Egypt in 1977 and currently lives between Basel and Cairo. He received a BFA from Helwan University, Cairo in 2000. Using a variety of media, he constructs narrative structures that explore the space between reality and fiction and its contribution to science, history, global culture and the dissemination of knowledge.

About the discussant: Girish Shahane is an art critic and curator based in Bombay. He was editor and later consulting editor of Art India magazine. He has been Director of the Skoda Prize for Contemporary Art and Artistic Director of Art Chennai 2014. He is currently Artistic Director of the India Art Fair.

Supported by Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum and apexart

Captions/ Details: Clockwise from featured image
I) Basim Magdy, Turtles All The Way Down, 2009
II) Documentation of talk and discussion