Shubigi Rao
A Small Study of Silence
Single channel, digital HD, colour, 4 channel sound

Commissioned for the 10th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art 2021-2022, at QAGOMA, Queensland, Australia. Supported by National Arts Council Singapore. Drawn from footage shot over many years, and more recent visuals shot during her stay in a quarantine hotel and across Singapore, Rao's work looks the inability to conceive of the human world outside of a human-centred lens. This film is also inspired by the artist's mother who taught her children how to listen to the sounds and alarm calls of birds, insects, and animals in the jungles of Kaladhungi in the 1980s, our first introduction to the magnificent complexities of interspecies communication. This film remembers that knowledge, and bears witness to the rapid habitat fragmentation and loss of ecosystems, the degradation of linguistic and cultural memory in animals, birds, and insects across the world, as well as the extinction of a human language every 14 days. This film recognises the labour and brilliance of native painters and illustrators who are rarely acknowledged for their knowledge and their lush illustrations of local flora and fauna in colonial books of natural history.