Future School
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A glossary is unlike a dictionary, which defines terms. The terms in the glossary are specific to a context and carry a thickness of histories, experiences and myths with them.

Rupali Gupte — 2021.5.13 05:19 AM

The Difficulties of Making Sense

Saleem Sinai, the protagonist of Salman Rushdie’s novel Midnight’s Children, uses the metaphor of watching a cinema to explain the difficulty of making sense of the present: “Reality is a question of perspective; the further you get from the past, the more concrete and plausible it seems - but as you approach the present, it inevitably seems more and more incredible. Suppose yourself in a large cinema, sitting at first in the back row, and gradually moving up, row by row, until your nose is almost pressed against the screen. Gradually the stars' faces dissolve into dancing grain; tiny details assume grotesque proportions; the illusion dissolves-or rather, it becomes clear that the illusion itself is reality… (When) we're too close to the cinema-screen, the picture … (breaks)... up into dots, only subjective judgments are possible”.

Figuring out the world and making sense of it during these times - the times of the covid-19 pandemic - seems exactly like Salman Rushdie’s description of watching the cinema with our nose touching the screen. There appears to be no critical distance to see things and make sense when one is living through the situation. This is the first difficulty of making sense of the present, where the present appears to us in pixels without a sense of the whole story. The second difficulty is related to tools and methods. Trying to put together the story of humanity’s engagement with the pandemic is different from putting together an account of chemical, biological or physical reactions. The telescopes, microscopes and various measuring instruments of natural and physical sciences are unable to handle the realm of experiences, anxieties and desires that get played out in a pandemic. The third difficulty is that the present remains dynamic. The actions that happen on one day may not be repeated on the next. Humans and contexts constantly shape and reshape each other. Any one instance in this process of shaping cannot act as a representative of the whole process. Moreover, it is impossible to look at the whole process as it has not even happened as yet.

Rupali Gupte — 2021.5.13 05:20 AM

The Glossary

In the work Gurgaon Glossaries the authors undertook a study of Gurgaon, a city that grew rapidly with diverse forces coming together. The city attracted people and businesses from all over the country with different kinds of lives and backgrounds to inhabit a complete alien landscape. The city settled not by resolving the differences between forces, but by figuring out ways in which these forces could exist with each other. It generated new practices and relationships that became terms by which the city happened. Gurgaon Glossaries compiled the terms by which the city came together. These were micro-narratives of emerging practices and relationships. The trope of the ‘glossary’ is useful to think about the contemporary where the nose is pressed against the screen. Every pixel becomes a term in the glossary - and more the number of terms in the glossary, more is the possibility of making sense. The glossary is unlike a dictionary, which defines terms. The terms in the glossary are specific to a context and carry a thickness of histories, experiences and myths with them. For example a term like ‘project’ would simply mean an undertaking or an idea or an ambition. In Gurgaon Glossaries, one of the terms called ‘the Project’ reads as follows:

“The Project: Contradictions arise when the condition of absent centralized infrastructure and governance collides with aspirations, desires and fears of the young professionals who come to work for the big companies located in Gurgaon. These contradictions are resolved through the idea of the ‘project’ taking care. Developers promise a ‘project’ instead of a house. Effort is made to provide all facilities that are available in any first world condition within these gated projects. Clubs, gardens, parking, security systems, 24X7 water and electricity are provided by the project along with one-button services – an exclusive service, where one has to simply push a button on the intercom system and demand. One has access to plumbers, cable TV guys, electricians, pest control services, etc. Some projects also provide services like day-care, drivers on hire, laundry, food from different restaurants”.

Here, the term ‘project’ embodies the specificities of governance, values, practices, systems and living in Gurgaon. The people of Gurgaon associate the term with a specific idea and space and not to the general idea of the term. The titles in the glossary may sound extremely generic. It is in their descriptions however that the terms acquire a contextual specificity, which speaks about the place / time / situation. Moreover, the form of the glossary is able to work with the pixelated nature of the story, where one is inside the story and also a part of it. Such a form is like a hydra - with multiple heads, where each head can speak in a different voice and different language and can respond differently to different situations. All the heads put together would be able to collectively tell a story of the context.

Rupali Gupte — 2021.5.13 05:20 AM

small forces
at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art

Rupali Gupte & Prasad Shetty

This workshop discusses cities as composites of small forces of energetic selves. Energetic self here is the dimension of the self that drives one to undertake specific activities connected to one’s desires. These could include - collecting strange objects, behaving like spies, writing stories, achieving mundane targets, opposing new ideas, making antennae to listen to strange sound waves, counting every tree, tracking obscure data, etc. Energetic selves also express themselves in everyday friendships and compassions. These practices go beyond the acts of routine and are considered unproductive in generating grand conceptualizations of cities. They are often discarded as stray individual preoccupations, anecdotes or subjective obsessions. While some of these are related to earning and occupations, others are simply ‘useless’. Everyone seems to have a trip that one lives with and for. Trips seem to provide individuals with their energy. Such energies, expressed in absurd quests, unusual obsessions and bizarre interests cumulatively appear to be producing the city. The city seems to acquire its generative energy from such small forces. In many ways the city seems to be a mad house and madness seems to be running it. Urban theory and pedagogy has seldom engaged with an understanding of these small forces or extended it for speculative / projective purposes. The workshop aims at exploring frameworks for engaging with small forces. The conceptual coordinates for this workshop will be the works of Walter Benjamin, Charles Baudelaire, Peter Linebaug, Marcus Redikar, James Gibson, Abdoumaliq Simone and Solomon Benjamin.

The workshop will be conducted through 3 sessions (over 3 days from 6pm to 8pm IST). These sessions will be largely conversational anchored with short presentations (of 1 hour) that will make the provocations followed by responses and discussions. The session shall be as follows:

SESSION 1: Rethinking CIties as a composite of Energetic Selves
What are the dominant ways of thinking about cities? Why rethink them? What are the coordinates for rethinking? What are the methods? What are energetic selves?

SESSION 2: The Mechanics of Friendships & Compassion
How are urban moralities and ethics produced? What are the roles of friendships and compassions in making cities? What are the mechanics though which friendships and compassions work?

SESSION 3: Small Forces and Form
What are the frameworks / methods to understand small forces and mobilise them? How do small forces shape urban form and life and vice-versa?

Rupali Gupte — 2021.11.30 07:43 AM

Small Forces Workshop at KNMA

Rupali Gupte — 2021.11.30 07:33 AM
Rupali Gupte — 2021.6.25 04:45 PM
Rupali Gupte — 2021.6.25 04:54 PM

We consider the works of Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, Jorge Borges, Umberto Eco and Michael Taussig as intellectual companions to the current work. The specific works here are as follows:

Barthes, Roland. (1991): Mythologies; trans. Annette Lavers, Noonday Press, New York (First translation published in 1957 by Editions du Seuil, Paris and later in 1972 byJonathan Cape Ltd.)

Benjamin, Walter. (2016): The Storyteller, Tales Out of Loneliness; trans, and ed. Sam Dolbear, Esther Leslie and Sebastian Truskolaski, Verso, London & New York

Borges, Jorge Luis, and Margarita Guerrero (1969): The Book Of Imaginary Beings. Dutton, New York.

Eco, Umberto (2012): The Infinity Of Lists: From Homer To Joyce. MacLehose, London.

Rupali Gupte — 2021.5.13 05:27 AM
Rupali Gupte — 2021.6.25 04:51 PM
City Glossaries

City Glossaries

Online, Workshop

Building dynamic vocabularies of place and self


Our understandings of cities often veer between the apocalyptic and the celebratory. The space between these two binaries is occupied by a wide variety of emancipatory processes through which cities are lived and experienced by their varied citizens.

Starting from an exhibition of an extant city glossary of the city of Gurgaon in India, participants are invited to build glossaries of their own as a way of deepening their personal processes of thinking about their cities. Combining a dynamic course of study that develops over time with extensive fieldwork of both place and self, these new glossaries will serve as interactive pedagogical tools for autodidacts—a process of opening up the many dimensions of city-making.

Exhibition program participants

Happening now

Mucca, The Korean Pavilion's friendly neighbor, 2021

Future School Office — The Korean Pavilion Documentation — 2021.12.7 06:01 AM

Fin / 끝

Future School Office — The Korean Pavilion Documentation — 2021.12.7 06:00 AM
Future School Office — The Korean Pavilion Documentation — 2021.12.7 05:50 AM
Future School Office — The Korean Pavilion Documentation — 2021.12.7 05:49 AM
Future School Office — The Korean Pavilion Documentation — 2021.12.7 05:49 AM
Future School Office — The Korean Pavilion Documentation — 2021.12.7 05:49 AM
Future School Office — The Korean Pavilion Documentation — 2021.12.7 05:49 AM
Future School Office — The Korean Pavilion Documentation — 2021.12.7 05:48 AM
Future School Office — The Korean Pavilion Documentation — 2021.12.7 05:48 AM
Future School Office — The Korean Pavilion Documentation — 2021.12.7 05:48 AM

Exhibition programs

Future School