What if factories and warehouses were no longer merely industrial,
And art only collaborative and intermediate.
What if the post-industrial world, neither dystopian nor utopian– in all its spatial relations and time consumption, erupted merely into subtle shifts in utility, to create massive movements.
We simply unpack the crates, the boxes, the containers, the shipment; unpack the industries of hierarchy and patriarchy, into a junkyard where we once stored our possibilities, but the raw material was never meant to stagnate in this industrial warehouse, it was meant to transform the space itself– towards a neon glow of pop cultural references of the future, and towards the retro warmth of yellow bulb lights calling for collective nostalgia.
What if this material was in fact inseparable from art, conversation and change. The malleable sets of the warehouse, in its theatrical and timeless being, told the stories of the performers; the vast walls and pillars came alive with rebellious street art that found its way into a political garage of intermediate creation, the vast walls and pillars supported the uncertainty and alienation rooted deep in the generations. The thick air will screen the sites of philosophy, of solidarity, and create geometries of raw music to score the films through which we had once imitated life, and to score those that imitate our lives.
The mundane purpose of architecture to make a new building fit with the rest of the buildings around it, is what has converged history and temporality with stories of being. Galleries, studios, theaters, universities and stadiums are merely architectural inclinations; the infrastructure must support excess art, excessive art creates cultural phenomena, excessive art is manufactured– it is larger than life, a surplus is required– a repetition and collaboration, like the processes of Warhol’s factory, the walls of which were lined in silver, reflective surfaces, reflective like the surfaces in Godard’s beautifully layered subversion of the American noir.
The purpose of this dynamism in ideation, creation, collaboration and movement in the virtual warehouse is to get the molecules to collide and unite us with our reflections.
To reorient our reflections on sexuality, family, society, individuality, alienation, love, politics, culture.
To reimagine our cities, our histories, our identities.
Look through the windows of your boxes, your containers. There is a tremendous dearth of natural light– a warehouse is not meant for decadence, my friend, why don’t you turn it into a greenhouse?
We are here to install some state of the art skylights.
The story of us begins with a What If? A question which starts with the very personal and political, “what if I was not a girl? What if I were a boy? What if I was both?” We, at an early stage, begin with accounting for all the ‘what ifs’ of this temporal, earthly existence. Locked in the battle against everyday adversities, we begin with the simple things. Packing an extra pair of clothes, an umbrella (what if it rains?), sunglasses to an extremely gloomy, climatic handbag (what if the sun comes out?), to the larger social, political and largely existential musings: on sudden death, and the politics of evading it. The ‘what ifs’ are a bothersome bunch of imagined possibilities which fuel our so-called idealistic thoughts, passions, indulgences and aversions. The ‘What If’ emerges as a germ of thought, which spreads through the touch of mutual anxiety, social fears and this world’s many political idiosyncrasies. The ‘What If’ is a question with a numbered possible outcomes: it either is or it is not. Germinating primarily as hope, the question manifests itself in our web of minds until it reaches beyond the impossible…at which point our imaginations have to be fleshed out into physical transitions, which, in regular short intervals, astound humanity. At this current juncture which ushers in the age of realizations, complete social inclusion, and is engaged in draining out prevailing biases from the existent society, we dip into imagined alternatives. The mighty and bourgeois ‘What Ifs’.
What If is an anthology of thoughts at random, accumulated within the original scattered questions, formalized through images and type. The issue traverses the boundaries of what is and what is not, what could have been and what didn’t. Our ‘What Ifs’ are not to be kept in check. The questions which allow us to pack an extra pair of clothes for an unknown, uncalled mythical situation is not too far from questions larger than us such as: what if we could master the art of materializing our poignant dreams?
What if ?
Photographs: Soumi Raychowdhury
Illustration: Shama Nair