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Shubigi Rao

Drawing as Fictioneering
26 July–7 August 2021

Shubigi Rao, mixed media drawing
Being a brief guide to the banished book (detail), 2017, mixed media drawing, 150x300cm.

Course format

Online only

Teaching Language

What to bring
Computer/laptop with camera, microphone and keyboard, headphones, any drawing materials (physical or digital surfaces), textual or other material.

All practices are welcome, at any level, though an interest in drawing (any media), text, print, publishing and language is preferred.

Maximum number of participants

Participation fee
€ 640,– (€ 480,–)

The course will address the multiple relationships of drawing with text, fiction-building, myth-making, non-linear narrative and radical form of resistance. The primacy of drawing, especially with text, is evident in its constancy and endurance in multiple forms and media, and also in the power of drawing and text to dismantle rigid monolithic narratives.

Starting from being a multidisciplinary artist working with drawing, text, film and photography, I also reference my work as a writer, publisher, lecturer and curator. Students learn to engage critically in research methods and production processes of art-making.

The course includes lectures on methods, diverse art practices, narrative building and practical information. One-on-one sessions actively parse the student’s practice and processes, with necessary problem-solving and exploration of possibilities towards expanding, enhancing and advancing their work. Through the course, students will improve their research methods, broaden their understanding of their thinking and practice, and explore text and drawing as collaborative tools. They will gain a deeper appreciation for the interplay of drawing and text in multiple media, its enduring power, and relevance in contemporary art practice and discourse. At the end of the course, the participants will present their work as a combination of one or all of the following: drawing (any media), text, oral recitation and gesture.

Artist and writer Shubigi Rao’s interests include libraries, archival systems, histories and lies, literature and violence, ecologies and natural history. Her complex layered installations comprise books, drawings and etchings, video and pseudo-science machinery, metaphysical puzzles, ideological board games and archives, examining current and historical flashpoints as perspectival shifts to examining contemporary crises of displacement, whether of people, languages, cultures, or knowledge bodies. These forms address a key argument in her current research – that current geo-politics is invariably influenced by language, cultural shifts and destruction in a proportion often underplayed in history.

She visits public and private collections, libraries and archives that have served as flashpoints in history, collecting fragments, ephemera, anecdotes and buried secrets, and piecing together (through film, books, drawings and artworks) a composite chronology of the literary and violent trajectories of our species. While researching the global approach to knowledge archiving, access, retrieval and disposal, the project generates a semi-mythologised biography of the book, while referencing the wealth of information that is never accessed, and that is marginalised, disregarded or forgotten. Her current decade-long project, Pulp: A Short Biography of the Banished Book, is about the history of book destruction and the future of knowledge. In 2020, the second volume of Pulp won the Singapore Literature Prize (creative non-fiction). The first volume had been shortlisted in 2018. The first exhibition of the project, Written in the Margins, won the APB Signature Prize 2018 Juror's Choice Award. She eas Artistic Director for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2021.

Solo exhibitions
2018 The Pelagic Tracts, 4th Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kochi (IN). The Wood for the Trees, Objectifs Centre for Photography and Film, Singapore. 2017 Written in the Margins, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin. The Great Book within which we Write our Names, and Every Cabinet is a Library, 3rd Pune Biennale, Pune (IN). 2013 Useful Fictions, Grey Projects, Singapore. The Retrospectacle of S. Raoul, Earl Lu Gallery, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, Singapore. 2008 The Tuning Fork of the Mind, 2nd Singapore Biennale, Singapore.

Group exhibitions
2021 Plants in Print, Botanic Gardens, Singapore. 2019 Arus Balik – From below the wind to above the wind and back again, NTU-CCA, Singapore. State of Motion: A Fear of Monsters, Asian Film Archive, Singapore. 2018 Winners exhibition of the APB Signature Art Prize, National Museum, Singapore. About Books, AlbumArte, Rome. Draw-in Drawing, Boan artspace, Seoul. 2017 Historical Fictions: a manual for the aspiring tyrant. Documenta 14, Athens. 2016 10th Taipei Biennial, Taipei. Demain est une île (Tomorrow is an island), Villa Vassilieff, Paris. Ghost on the Wire 2, Objectifs Gallery, Singapore. 2015 Urban:ness, DUCTAC,  Dubai. Dear Painter, Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Singapore. Shubigi Rao: Exquisite Corpse, showcase under Curating Lab, NUS Museum, Singapore. Mysterious Objects at Noon, Objectifs Gallery, Singapore; Bermondsey Gallery, London. Ex Libris, National Library, Singapore. Singapore mon Amour (literary section), part of Singapour en France – le Festival (FR).

2020 Visiting curator, HISK, Ghent (BE). 2018 Dissertation supervisor for MA Fine Arts candidates, LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore. 2017 Studio supervisor at SOTA, Singapore. 2011 – 2016 Dissertation supervisor for MA Fine Arts candidates, LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore. 2014 – 2016 Studio tutor and theory lecturer for BFA and Diploma Fine Arts LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore. 2013 – 2015 Dissertation supervisor and lecturer in dissertation research and writing for BA Fine Arts, LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore.

Shubigi Rao, Pulp II: A Visual Bibliography of the Banished Book, RockPaperFire, Singapore 2018.
Written in the Margins, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin 2017.
Pulp: A Short Biography of the Banished Book, RockPaperFire, Singapore 2016.
History’s Malcontents: The Life and Times of S. Raoul, Institute of Contemporary Art, Singapore 2013.
Useful Fictions, Grey Projects, Singapore 2013.
Portrait photo Rao Shubigi
Photo: Kathrin Leisch