By : Santosh S and Vidya Shivadas
As part of a course that was offered in the final semester on the curatorial, we invited students to partake in a project titled Letters to/from Cairo, Delhi, Gwangju, Johannesburg, and Richmond, initiated by the South Africa-based educator and artist Rangoato Hlasane (Ra).
The project was aimed at initiating conversations between groups of students and young art practitioners based in different locations. It worked with the technology of letter writing—its material manifestations and modes of address, its collaborative potential, the possibilities it opens up for intimate and conversational enquiries, and the anticipation and speculation of the waiting that is built into it.
The closure of the university in mid-March changed the course of this project. The process of working together in class, with tactile processes of making had to be rethought as did the project’s key condition which involved sending the letters by post. The question of address also changed—distance, proximity, and duration took on new meanings as did the terms friends and strangers.
The students navigated these shifts and produced the project in this virtual, provisional form – a series of interlinked, hyperlinked conversations among themselves that invite others to participate. The letters come together to produce a testament to our historical present.