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Is the World Sleeping, Sleepless, or Awake or Dreaming?

Editors’ Note:

As observed by Raqs Media Collective: “For the past few decades, globally, many well-meaning but demoralized people, especially artists and intellectuals, but also activists, have been losing sleep.” For those who have been dreaming in seeking for a better future,​ the result of presidential election 2020 is perhaps not a bad place to wake up to – we could all use some cheerful and promising news to balance the outburst of depressions since the pandemic – and a great place to revalue our dream, sleep, and awareness.

In this piece of poetic and thoughtful writing, published in e-flux in June 2014, the Raqs Media Collective sees sleeping as an effective strategy that could be adapted by both the privileged and the suppressed. “Are we drifting into a disaster with our eyes shut, or sleepwalking with our eyes wide open?” When we are asleep, are we, just like the factory workers, “animated by the current of vivid dreams” and “doze at the machine” when we are awake? And, can we get inspired by the warrior Kumbhakarna, to “to dream lucidly, to envision and realize the things that one cannot do when one is awake, distracted, bored, busy”?

This is part of e-flux in Chinese Column, a collaboration between Heichi Magazine and e-flux journal, with curator and writer Xiaoyu Weng as the column’s guest-editor.

Is the World Sleeping, Sleepless, or Awake or Dreaming? from e-flux journal #56—June 2014, read the original article here. Click here to read the essay in Chinese. ​Translated by Shuhan Liang, co-edited by Xiaoyu Weng and Qianfan Gu.

Shuhan Liang holds a PhD in Art History from Peking University, and received his master degree from China Central Academy of Fine Arts. He formerly served as the managing editor for ARTFORUM China, and is now the editor-in-chief of Ran Dian. He is the author of Profusion Before the “Depression”: American Modern Art in the Early 20th Century and has translated numerous academic books. Liang's research interest focuses on the history of modern art and theories of contemporary art criticism. He is currently translating Renaissance and Renascences in Western Art by Erwin Panofsky.

Raqs Media Collective, Utopia is a Hearing Aid, 2003. 60 x 84 cm Poster design for Utopia Station.

Is it time to strike at the moment. It is the moment to strike at time. Raqs Media Collective, Strike, 2011. Stainless steel and LED strip lights.

Raqs Media Collective, Blackboard (A Time of Deficit), 2013. Screen print on mirrored steel.

Published: 2020.11.13