The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna has undergone a fundamental renovation and modernization and returned this summer to its historical building on Schillerplatz. For this occasion, the internationally active artist and curator trio from New Delhi, Raqs Media Collective (Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula, Shuddhabrata Sengupta), was asked to survey the historical art collections—the Paintings Gallery, the Graphic Collection and the Plaster Cast Collection—from an external perspective and to mediate a thematic reorientation in dialogue with contemporary art. Hungry for Time developed through a collaboration with the Academy’s own expertise while taking the current decolonialism discourse in art and cultural studies into account, thereby opening up a new way of perceiving the art collections.
In the historical ambience of the Aula and the Paintings Gallery, Raqs Media Collective presents a show that apprehends time from the perspective of hunger and desire, the eponymous hunger for time. In eleven scenes this hunger for time is outlined in more detail. The scenes assemble artworks from all three of the historical collections and relate these to contemporary art, including works commissioned especially for the exhibition.
The kernel of each scene is an artwork from the historical collections, for example, the Last Judgement Triptych by Hieronymus Bosch or graphic art by Thomas Ender. For some of the scenes, Raqs Media Collective has invited artistic and curatorial interlocutors like the Discursive Justice Ensemble (Kabelo MALATSIE, Michelle WONG, Lantian XIE), or the artist duo Rohini Devasher and Pallavi Paul. Each kernel acts as a magnet, attracting other works—historical, as well as contemporary. The scenes tell stories—about broken limbs and deformed justice, about efflorescent designs on space and time, about the hubris of trying to evade mortality, and about perspectives on how faces, landscapes, and gazes haunt a collection. Walking through the scenes invites the visitor to ask how a necessary epistemic disobedience (Walter D. Mignolo) can come to be.
The interplay of lighting, acoustic ambience, juxtapositions, superimpositions, interpretive texts and notes in the margins produces breaks in linearity, continuity and chronology; the progression from station to station yields new insights into the art collections.