The Ecliptic Small

Where are we going? Degrowth and arts ecosystem

A conversation between Monica Narula and Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, moderated by Corina Oprea

Wednesday, 4 November 2020, 3 p.m. (CET) / 7:30 p.m. (IST) This event was streamed and recorded, and the transcription will be part of the ePub Degrowth and Progress, which is to be published by L'Internationale Online in January 2021.

The event is a prologue of the coming issue of L’Internationale Online, confronting the two seemingly incompatible terms Degrowth and Progress. A conversation between artist Monica Narula and curator Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez will follow the thread of these ambiguous notions inspecting institutional cultural landscape to reveal several issues raised in their practice addressing political movements such as distribution and wealth, struggles for the commons, feminisms, ecology and sustainability to propose radical changes in cultural production, social behaviour and urban environment at large. Through their artistic and curatorial practice, they will speak about the possibility of degrowing progression in time, mobility, productivity, consumption.

For an abundance of time. The 24/7 capitalist organisation of labour makes us believe there is never enough time. What means do we have to emancipate from overproduction in the arts?

For the ability to move. What does it mean to rethink travel when connecting on the global level is so enriching culturally. For travel and distribution of goods, the degrowth movement proposes localisation? Is this also the answer for the arts?

For responsible production. With the outbreak of the pandemic, the capitalist mode of production and consumption has stopped. At the same time access to culture is also denied in most countries affected by the outbreak. On the one hand, we have the threat of economic collapse, and on the other hand we have the potential of cultural degrowth that is less interested in economics and more interested in intersectionality. How to look at the notion of responsibility and solidarity in culture?

For the necessity of tactile experience. The digital commons movement has enacted a vital opposition to the commodification of our digital-selves. Yet, automation of some processes is not the final answer. What is essential and cannot be missed or digitised? How do we develop tools that promote empathy with the Earth and eco-logical thinking?


Monica Narula formed Raqs Media Collective in 1992, along with Jeebesh Bagchi and Shuddhabrata Sengupta. The word “raqs” in several languages denotes an intensification of awareness and presence attained by whirling, turning, being in a state of revolution. Raqs Media Collective take this sense to mean ‘kinetic contemplation’ and a restless and energetic entanglement with the world and with time. Raqs practices across several media; making installation, sculpture, video, performance, text, lexica and curation. The members of Raqs Media Collective live and work in Delhi, India. In 2001, they co-founded the Sarai program at CSDS New Delhi and ran it for a decade, where they also edited the Sarai Reader series. They have been shown extensively globally, as well as curated numerous exhibitions, including the Shanghai Biennale 2016, “Why Not Ask Again?”. They were the Artistic Directors for the recently concluded Yokohama Triennale 2020 “Afterglow”, where they developed sources around toxicity, care, and the luminosity of friendship.


Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez is an interdependent curator, editor and writer. Among the exhibitions she curated are Contour Biennale 9: Coltan as Cotton (2019, Mechelen), Defiant Muses: Delphine Seyrig and the Feminist Video Collectives in France (1970s-1980s) at LaM, Lille and Museum Reina Sofia, Madrid (2019, with Giovanna Zapperi), Show Me Your Archive and I Will Tell You Who Is In Power at Kiosk, Ghent (2017, with Wim Waelput), Let’s Talk about the Weather at the Sursock Museum, Beirut and Times Museum, Guangzhou (2016 and 2018, with Nora Razian), Resilience. U3 - Triennial of Contemporary Art in Slovenia at MSUM, Ljubljana (2013). She was co-director of Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers (2010–12). She is chief editor of Versopolis Review, and was chief editor of the Manifesta Journal (2012-14) and of L’Internationale Online (2014-2017). She curates the project Not Fully Human, Not Human At All, organized by KADIST, Paris (2017-2020). She is co-founder of the Initiative for Practices and Visions of Radical Care, with Elena Sorokina.