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    Desire Machine Collective

    Map Academy

    Articles are written collaboratively by the EIA editors. More information on our team, their individual bios, and our approach to writing can be found on our About pages. We also welcome feedback and all articles include a bibliography (see below).

    An artist collective comprising Sonal Jain and Mriganka Madhukaillya, Desire Machine Collective (DMC) creates films and audio-visual installations focused on intensive research and local engagement. The group’s practice is heavily influenced by the work of French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, particularly their texts A Thousand Plateaus (1980) and Anti-Oedipus (1972). DMC borrows its name from the latter text, where the authors suggest that, at a societal level, desire can be seen as an active, productive and transformative force rather than a symptom of deficiency.

    After Jain and Madhukaillya met at the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, they relocated to Guwahati, where they formed DMC in 2004. In 2013, they did an artist residency at the New Museum, followed by a residency at Gasworks, London, in 2015, through funding from the Charles Wallace India Trust and the Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation.

    DMC’s work is situated at the intersection of socio-economic systems and natural cycles, such as the passage of time and the exploitation of natural resources. Their installations and projects are often immersive, durational and experience-oriented, such as Trespassers will (not) be prosecuted (2008) — an audio installation of various sounds recorded in the Mawphlang forest in Meghalaya, allowing listeners to experience the forest and its rhythms. DMC also occasionally documents and sets up their projects in derelict structures, as in Residue (2011), a film about an abandoned thermal power plant in Assam slowly being taken over by the forest.

    Most of DMC’s work is focused on northeastern India. With Camera Praxis (2013–14), a pedagogical project realised through a grant from the India Foundation for the Arts (IFA), DMC conceived of a site-specific critical laboratory aimed at providing local creators with a global understanding of cinema history and theory, particularly the Korean, Chinese and Southeast Asian cultural sphere. The Collective has also produced work on other politically troubled regions, notably Nishan I and II (2007–19), a series of densely layered images and video recordings produced around an abandoned house in Srinagar.

    DMC’s first solo show, Noise Life (2014), was held at Project 88. They have since exhibited at the Deutsche Guggenheim Museum, Berlin (2010); the 54th Venice Biennale (2011); the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2012); New Museum, New York (2013); and the Singapore Biennale (2019).

    At the time of writing, the collective is based out of Guwahati.


    Asia Art Archive in America. “A Conversation with Desire Machine Collective,” November 07, 2018.

    Gasworks. “Desire Machine Collective 13 JUL – 27 SEP 15.” Accessed May 31, 2021.

    Guggenheim. “Being Singular Plural.” Accessed June 01, 2021.

    New Museum. “A Presentation by Desire Machine Collective,” July 07, 2013.

    IDEAS | Asia Art Archive. “Interview with Desire Machine Collective,” December 01, 2011.

    India Foundation for the Arts. “Desire Machine Collective.” Accessed May 31, 2021.

    Maunder, Tess. “Desire Machine Collective.” Ocula, August 07, 2020.

    Project 88. “Desire Machine Collective.” Accessed May 31, 2021.

    Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art. “Desire Machine Collective.” Accessed May 31, 2021.

    Schwendener, Martha. “Connections that Seem to Erase Boundaries.” The New York Times, April 19, 2012.

    Sharma, Sanjukta. “Art: Cries off the Wall.” Mint, August 29, 2014.

    Singapore Biennale. “Desire Machine Collective.” Accessed May 31, 2021.

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