Nancy Adajania and Ranjit Hoskote – Chapter Thirteen, Glasgow

On the 23th of November Chapter Thirteen hosted a lecture by Nancy Adajania and Ranjit Hoskote. Benjamin Fallon, part of Chapter Thirteen, introduces the intention of inviting these speakers to Glasgow with an explanation on why Chapter Thirteen was founded in the first place, to counter the perfunctory institutional methods and to include new voices in this process. Nancy Adajania and Ranjit Hoskote research exactly these processes in what they call the nth field, the non-static complex transcultural exchange.[1]

More specifically, Nancy Adajania structures her talk around the idea of accumulation. She defines accumulation as translating into ‘knowledge production’. She also defines the artistic practice as knowledge producing activity in the sense that it is an accumulation of material. This part of the talk reminded me of cybernetic interpretations of the artist-practice[2], as something that gathers information and then generates output to form a sustainable ‘thinking’ body of practice. However, the meaning of accumulation doesn’t describe the second part of this process – the output. Accumulation solely means ‘collecting together’ and, remarkably, ‘becoming collected’ as well. Through the several forms of accumulation she brings up in her talk (primitive-, – by dispossession, – of intelligence, – of happiness, – of disillusion, – as resistance), Adajania speaks about the social and sensible affect of accumulation in cultural exchange in the nth field. Her talk was especially surprising where she gave examples of the Dialogue Center, a community creative center based in India[3], undertaking collaborative projects with artists and locals – mainly those who are both (the examples of the playhouses where my absolute favourite). The emphasis in her arguments on sensible, sometimes spiritual[4], social interaction, gently dissociating with an accountable rhetoric of (cultural)practice – with which also cybernetics can be associated, made of this talk an evocative insight into an aproach of transcultural and non-hierachical inclusiveness by slightly distancing from (absolute) critical definition. It reminds me of Zen-pedagogies and Latour’s composition manifesto, both referring to allowed complexity (or even confusions) as a way to inclusiveness.[5]

Ranjit Hoskote’s talk revolved around (intellectual) artistic labour in the nth field, which I could associate with his earlier work in collaboration with BAK Utrecht[6]. What was new for me was his more recent exploration – as he described it – of ‘the possibility of transformative listening’ as a serious cultural production. Although these ideas resonate with some of the texts in BAK’s publication[7], the exploration of ‘hearing’ as opposed to seeing, ambient opposed to linear perspective, as a practice within the nth field of transcultural exchange was evoking. Including the consideration of institutional history in his talk, Hoskote shared his considerations on how this approach of a non-perspective might work in the traditional linear museum setting. His comment ‘the Post-colonial is far closer to the self than it seems’, was especially thought-provoking. I could relate this to the idea of hearing as an act that requires a certain hospitality as opposed to seeing that could be avoided by ‘looking away’.


[1] If it can be called an exchange, since a simple ‘back-and-forth’ movement is too limited a description for this research. It also moves between local and global and between history and future. This is precisely what the nth means, a field with a yet to be defined number of dimensions. I recommend further reading on this topic:  ‘Towards a Lexicon of Urgencies’ and their article ‘The Nth Field: The Horizon Reloaded‘ in On Horizons: A Critical Reader in Contemporary Art.

[2] Ana T. Pinto

[3] Article on the Dialogue Center by Nancy Adajania

[4] She refers to Indic philosophical traditions: akal, from the evolving praxis of the subaltern and visarjan, a Hindu ritual that attends to cosmic cycles.

[5] Especially methodologies of dispossession and disillusion I incorporated into an unfinalised project of over a year ago became much more contextualised through practical examples and much more articulated through a reformulated relationship with literature I’ve read.

[6] Especially editing of the book ‘future publics (the rest couls and should be done by the people.)’

[7] Mainly ‘ambient perspective and the citizen’s moving eyes’