Nine Nodes of Non-Being at 421 is a group exhibition presenting works by nine emerging and established artists, thinkers, filmmakers, and researchers from East, South, Southeast Asia, the MENA region, and South America. It conceives of climate-related extinction through various states of negation and excess emerging from each of the nine artistic nodes to examine ways of existing more equitably within our ongoing crises.
Climate data and science on human and non-human extinctions is evident, abundant, and available. However, few of us actually believe that we are going to become extinct, at least not in an immediate sense. The signifiers of this possibility are often deaths and disasters that exist in other places and elsewheres, happening to species and communities we think of as vulnerable—not us. This apathy stems not from a lack of knowledge but from our incapacity to critically and ontologically contend with what the climate crisis truly means for us all. Simply unveiling the material facts of extinction is not enough to alter the realities of structural injustice and our ingrained behaviors or patterns of thinking.
This ongoing extinction is awfully stratified. It is capitalist, racialized, gendered, casteist, ableist, heteronormative, and is compounded by infinite and unnameable, historical and transhistorical, systemic and geopolitical lines of inequalities. Perhaps how art can intervene is to dwell within these non-human or human ontologies that are seen as ‘Other’; not through dubious and flawed processes of identification or superfluous empathy, but rather, to think with a genuinely self-reflexive idea of an individual and collective not-being at all. By situating ourselves within our own negations, we open up possibilities of new ways of being within the climate apocalypse.
Nine Nodes of Non-Being is not an attempt to represent the Anthropocene, but rather conceives of non-being, and thus negation itself, as a creative and generative expanse. The artistic-worlds presented here are not merely signifiers of extinction but real propositions for the unknown. The forms of excess and negation found within the work of the participating artists hold the simultaneity of muchness and blankness; the paradox of extinction itself; that we are both in the immense thick of it (muchness) and yet cannot conceive of it (a blankness). Through these excessive modes, we think about ways of non-being and the climate apocalypse itself in ways we have likely never considered— through kitsch, rest, cringe, bathos, abstraction, silliness, melancholy, madness, and the weird.
The artists taking part this exhibition are Mariam AlZayani, Fayçal Baghriche, Clemencia Echeverri, UNMAKE LAB, Malik Irtiza, Zara Mahmood, Amba Sayal-Bennett, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Ayman Zedani. Their projects span diverse media, including drawings, moving image, sculpture, photo transfer, text, soundscapes, and multi-media installation.
Nine Nodes of Non-Being is curated by Ritika Biswas and emerged from a year-long journey as part of the 421 Curatorial Development Exhibition Program in collaboration with The Bombay Institute for Critical Analysis and Research (BICAR).
Press release from 421