Pulp III: A Short Biography of the Banished Book
Shubigi Rao’s multidisciplinary practice critiques contemporary celebrations of ignorance and culling of knowledge. A glorious tribute and haunting elegy to shared humanity and communities of print, this exhibition marks the midpoint of her evocative 10-year project Pulp, which explores the history of book destruction and its impact on the futures of knowledge.
Based on an artistic method of solo travel and filming as well as building trust and kinship with people across the world, her work is a recovery of overlooked half-truths, hearsay, contested narratives and secrets. Such vital histories have often been deliberately obscured by those in power and by the expediencies of capital. When encountered here, the collected stories become seeds of knowledge that resist erasure and circumvent geopolitical and cultural divides.
Pulp III explores the precarity of endangered languages, the futures of public and alternative libraries, the work of defenders of books, and the cosmopolitanism of regional print communities that have blossomed and waned in historic centres of print, such as Venice and Singapore.
Pulp: A Short Biography of the Banished Book
Since 2014, Shubigi Rao has been filming public and private collections, libraries and archives globally for Pulp: A Short Biography of the Banished Book. The project spans the creation of books to their destruction, the building of libraries to their burning, and the diverse threats to languages in embattled communities. Rao’s critically insightful, extensive, incisive and poetic work across Pulp explores the dichotomies of human stories and erasure. Her work unpeels the layered perspectives on inclusion and exclusion, the multitudinous philosophical natures of text, story, and archive, while examining the collisions between violent human impulse and survival and resistance.
The Singapore Pavilion in Venice
The Singapore Pavilion occupies 250 sqm in a complex of buildings called the Sale d’Armi, which is centrally located and easily accessible within the Arsenale, a key site in Venice. The Sale d’Armi complex is a cluster of four 16th-century barracks built with brick and stone, each with a wooden roof. It lies opposite the intersection between the long Corderie and Artiglierie buildings, where the main central square of the Arsenale is situated.
Pulp III Website
This website is an online extension of the Singapore Pavilion Pulp III: A Short Biography of the Banished Book by Shubigi Rao, where an e-version of the book Pulp Vol. III functions as a strategy and a tool against hegemonic conventions of information flow. Being a Brief Guide to the Banished Book (2017), a drawing of a phylogenetic tree by the artist, offers an intimate reading of the underlying themes explored in her work. By delving deeper into the tree, one can discover a selection of text excerpts and drawings from the first three volumes of her Pulp book series. It is a part of Shubigi Rao’s eponymous decade-long inquiry about and documentation of human aspiration, desire and yearning, eradication and violence, error and failure, that encapsulates the best and worst of humankind. The site also features stills from Talking Leaves that, by way of personal confidences and poetic reflections, documentary and mytho-poetics, explores the tales of those at the frontlines of saving books and libraries. The website includes images of the Pavilion’s spatial design by architect Laura Miotto that takes the form of a paper maze.