Because of inclement weather, the Feb. 25 Artist Talk by Raqs Media Collective has been moved to Friday, Feb. 26 at 3:30 p.m. in the Krannert Art Museum auditorium.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The table in the Krannert Art Museum gallery is set for 12. At each place setting, rather than food, is a stack of cards with quotes about time. The cards will structure the conversation of the diners – mostly University of Illinois faculty who will spend an evening drinking wine and discussing the nature of time.
“Instead of food for thought, it’s thought for food,” said Amy Powell, curator of the “Time / Image” exhibition currently at Krannert Art Museum and the museum’s curator of modern and contemporary art.
The conversation constitutes a performance, “Time Symposium,” that will be staged by Raqs Media Collective (Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta), artists from India who will be on campus during the week of Feb. 22 as George A. Miller Visiting Artists. “Time Symposium,” part of the “Time / Image” exhibition, will be from 5 to 9 p.m. Feb. 25 at Krannert Art Museum. The event is open to the public.
The participants will read through the cards together and then discuss the ideas presented. The cards “take the shape of a meal,” Powell said. For example, the first sets of cards, representing the hors d’oeuvre and soup, have relatively short phrases about time. The entrée course features longer entries, and the dessert cards include references to wine and intoxication.
Wine factors into the performance in multiple ways, Powell said.
“It’s like a Greek symposium, in which people would gather over wine to debate and discuss,” she said. “It also serves a temporal role. Intoxication happens over time.”
While the cards structure the conversation, the form is also expansive, Powell said.
“It allows for a lot of improvisation from the participants. Who knows where the conversation will go,” she said.
Powell chose the faculty participants, who will be joined by one member of Raqs Media Collective.
The faculty participating include: Anita Say Chan, media and cinema studies; Brian Fields, astronomy and physics; Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, history; Kevin Hamilton, art and design; David Hays, landscape architecture; Jamie L. Jones, English; Lilya Kaganovsky, comparative and world literature; Prita Meier, art and design; Jennifer Monson, dance; and Deke Weaver, art and design.
“I was interested in people who think about time a lot in their work, and people who would be good conversationalists,” Powell said.
For example, Hamilton is interested in the history of nuclear technology and its ties to other technological innovations. Fields explores the history of the universe, and the energies and forces creating the solar system. And Ghamari-Tabrizi studies the Iranian revolution and how concepts of modernity shape our views of it.
“Time Symposium” has been performed around the world, but the event at Krannert Art Museum will be its premiere U.S. museum performance. Raqs Media Collective will give an artist talk titled “Untimely Calendar” at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at the museum.
The name “Raqs” is both an acronym for “rarely asked questions” and a Persian, Arabic and Urdu word for the meditative state entered into by whirling dervishes. Its three members focus on histories and philosophies of time and questions facing contemporary culture, and their work includes film, photography, sculpture, performances and workshops.
While on campus, its members will visit the observatory, look at the Marcel Proust archive at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, tour facilities related to the history of supercomputing at the U. of I., and visit several classes.