A finger on the pulse

A finger on the Pulse: How to be relevant, when speaking about the now? Competing truths and parochial histories are enforced by armies of trolling gatekeepers in the great open of our digital age. Doctored narratives resonate through the dark void of echo chambers, while kaleidoscopic realities cram endless feeds of “lives” and other “stories”. Authorities, down to the most obtuse, have spotted the condition; they advance alternative facts while they dismember what is left of our social bodies with their cleaving tactics. When indispensable commons such as factual truth are being tribalized, when the agora is turned into an arena, a fragmentary discourse might be all that is left to sketch a semblance of reality.

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And so this Finger on the pulse is organized around fragments. The exhibition showcases work by eight artists from Bangladesh whose age span covers three generations. They practice on various media and develop an idiosyncratic view on the events surrounding them: there is no shared form or theme to unite them in a linear presentation. Yet a story, fragile and trembling as it might be, emerges from the juxtaposition. Loosely assembled, multifaceted, it has no clear beginning and no definitive end. It stitches facts, emotions, and anecdotes that, taken together, might well sketch Bangladesh’s “now”. As Glissant, the great thinker of the difference, once remarked, the unity of a whole can also be found in series of ruptures and fractures and should not rely on the harmony of congruent forms.

There is something oddly stimulating in placing a finger on one’s pulse. It is the wait, perhaps, the short time lapse before the next blood wave hits again. Or the rhythm, the eerie regularity of throbbing arteries set on the catch and release movement of faraway cardiac valves. Artists here are immersed in the same kind of stirring quest. They keep the pulse of events in check, chronicling their realities. Seemingly unconnected, their fragments pencil something wider when considered together; a “state of affairs” which pulsates under our very fingers.

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