May 29, 2012

Raqs Media CollectiveThe Primary Education of the Autodidact

SFU Galleries at Simon Fraser University

For its summer program, the Audain Gallery has commissioned the New Delhi based Raqs Media Collective (Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula, and Shuddhabrata Sengupta) to present a site-specific work in the large windows outside of the gallery on Hastings Street. Entitled The Primary Education of the Autodidact, the work addresses the university as a site for knowledge production.

The understanding of the university as a stable institutional site of education and knowledge production has historically undergone a dramatic shift towards it as a contested place and platform for the production of different forms of knowledges.

Institutional forms of pedagogy and established forms of education have intersected with self-directed and individual modes of learning, understanding, and knowing, and such intersections are still ongoing. One could understand this pattern as a struggle between learning and knowing from above and learning and knowing from below. In this struggle, students are considered to be both active subjects, guided by their own autodidactic creativity, and passive objects receiving their education according to the regime of the institutional production of knowledge. The potential for active individual creativity seems to be at permanent risk of being absorbed by universities, which eagerly incorporate all kinds of knowledge and forms of knowledge production, often at the loss of critical autonomy.

Working as a collective in multidisciplinary aesthetic formats and discursive production, in collaboration with local communities, and in the founding of The Sarai Program at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi as an institutional platform, Raqs Media Collective consistently push the awareness and boundaries of the contradictions between knowing and knowledge, between production and creativity, and between exploitation and use.

The Primary Education of the Autodidact is part of an ongoing series of works by Raqs Media Collective that explores knowledge, power, utterance, and silence. The work directly addresses the notion and problematic of the autodidact, and also attests to the autodidacticism of the collective’s own diverse body of work and working method.

Raqs Media Collective ( was founded in 1992. Crossing and combining different media, they work as artists, filmmakers, writers, curators, editors, event organizers, and more. Inspired by a self-defined notion of “kinetic contemplation,” their practice restlessly explores new forms and methods of production while preserving a consistent rigor. Their work as artists and as curators has been presented at major institutions internationally.

The Audain Gallery will be closed until September, but the project will be publicly visible in the windows of the gallery at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts at 149 W Hastings Street.

The Primary Education of the Autodidact is presented in partnership with the Indian Summer Festival of Arts & Ideas (, which runs from July 5–15, 2012, at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, and with the support of the Vancity Office of Community Engagement in the SFU Woodward’s Cultural Unit.

About the Audain Gallery
The Audain Gallery serves as a vital aspect of the Visual Arts program at Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts. The gallery’s mission is to advance the aesthetic and discursive production and presentation of contemporary visual art through a responsive program of exhibitions and to support engaged pedagogy. The gallery encourages conceptual and experimental projects that explore the dialogue between the social and the cultural in contemporary artistic practices.

The Audain Gallery is curated by Sabine Bitter, working with gallery assistant Brady Cranfield.



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