Ruach not Rauch
Haseeb Ahmed's second solo exhibition at the gallery serves as an epilogue to his trilogy of Wind Egg Project exhibitions hosted by the Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Harlan Levey Projects and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp (M HKA). Haseeb Ahmed’s transdisciplinary practice exists as clusters of experimental research, tangling us in science and myth. While drawing upon the hard sciences, the approach is not a ‘scientistic’one; that is, privileging the scientific method. Ahmed’s use of contemporary technology and science emerge as a critique from within – directed at a society that imagines these fields to be their means of salvation – in the absence of emancipatory political narratives.
How might we outrun our current thinking? Ruach not Rauch– a space that unravels codes, exhausts the formal language of science and technology – reminds us that our freedom of thought remains at stake. Existing as an epilogue to ten years of Ahmed’s research, the exhibition offers a series of cosmological rabbit holes to fall through, with propositions only leading to more questions. Akin to chaos, the pause before the creation of the Universe, Ruach not Rauch exists in a threshold structure, like a wind tunnel or tower of silence. It lives between hypotheses and conclusions, prior to our over-considered, industrially produced world. It is a disorienting place, confusing opposite and adjacent concepts. The title, a mix of Hebrew (‘ruach,’ i.e. the breath of God that created the World) and German (‘rauch,’ i.e. smoke arising from destruction) evokes the study of fluids a recurring element in Ahmed’s exploration.
At the very core of Ruach not Rauch is the vulture, both a sign of death and a species rumored to have the capacity for immaculate conception.