Shubigi Rao: Stories of Creation and Destruction
By Chloe Chu
Why do some people abet authoritarianism? What ideas might be repressed in democracies? How much of ourselves do we really know? These questions don’t have singular resolutions, but for Shubigi Rao, hints can be found in the voices that books contain and in the perspectives we censor. “I don’t valorize books,” Rao emphasizes, for they can hold dangerous, destructive ideas as much as beautiful ones. Rather, in her ten-year series Pulp: A Short Biography of the Banished Book (2014– ), a portion of which is displayed in the Singapore Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale, she understands books as distillations of human ideas, and by resurfacing stories of individual volumes and whole libraries that have been destroyed, she seeks to resist the domination of any one strain of thought.