More often than not, we think of change as something to plan for. Or something that just occurs when we least expect it. Consider these examples that seem to be dichotomies.
Growing up in India, living and travelling within the country, I am, as are most of the citizens of the country used to constant change. From roads that disappear overnight to the continued kindness of strangers. The sudden gesture of empathy from the state versus the closure of your favourite tea stall. As a member of an incredibly large country, you get used to change. Almost as if change becomes a constant. A pre requisite. A fact of life etc.,
I’ve recently returned from completing an MA in London. A change of pace? Sure. However, my propensity for change and chaos, either put me at an advantage or a severe disadvantage. Suddenly I was creating binaries where there were none. Every morning, I half expected a road outside my house to be dug up, for a bus to be late or broken down. Or even to suddenly told to leave the country. Change, it seems, eluded me.
While it is futile to debate over which of these is a better environment to engage in artistic discourse, I did however learn one surprising thing. That my environment allowed for constant learning irrespective of the geographical location.
Prior to studying art, I freelanced as a photographer, filmmaker and a motorcycle entrepreneur. And even before that, I was a banker. All of these roles were the result of conscious decisions to be those things. But it seemed, I was missing the point entirely while searching for the thing I wanted to do most. I was entrenched in the knowledge systems regarding each of those roles I was playing, yet had no idea how to find the lines that connected them. Any street wisdom I picked up from being a long distance motorcycle traveller, I tended to separate it from the other things I was trying to be.
By isolating my experiences, I was unable to see what was the one important factor connecting all of them – me. At the risk of sounding narcissistic, I will elaborate. While studying the works of continental philosophers such as Deleuze and Guattari, Lacan, Foucault etc., I found that I was pre-disposed to a binary form of thinking. Either this or that. The conviction in my beliefs often led me to ignore/disregard any other points of view or stream of knowledge that was “other” than mine.
As someone who had never read a word of art history or critical theory or even have a basic set of drawing skills, I tried to find ways to improvise. Diving deep into the works of Deleuze and Guattari, especially “A Thousand Plateaus” within which I discovered their interpretation of the Rhizome. The Rhizome offered me a way out of my binary thinking processes. By allowing for multiple connotations of a thought to exist at the same time and at different times, i.e – multiple points of view regarding the same subject, arising from the same place or multiple places at various times, knowledge can then seep in without constraint. Knowledge as a term is subjective. To achieve any sort of true dissemination, we must first free it from its perceived hierarchies.
By allowing for chaos to enter our systems of knowledge, we enable it to welcome the unexpected. To embrace it and continue to propagate itself.
Here's an audio piece from a work I made last November that might help to grasp the text a little better - https://soundcloud.com/vishalkswamy/state-of-affairs_introspection_violence