Rajinder Singh

  • 2021, Digital Commission
  • Commissioned by the Glucksman

Spasm is a new digital commission by artist Rajinder Singh that explores minor and emergent movements through a series of 16 short online films. These brief, repetitive clips capture the physical gestures of dancers and performers, with their abrupt, unconscious actions moving in tandem with the endlessly looped, highly-edited format of internet videos.

Hannah Arendt once suggested that if we do not learn how to move politically, the risk is that the political vanishes completely from the world. The ‘political’ defined as the movement of freedom is a difficult, ever-evolving commitment. In Spasm, Singh explores minor and emergent movements as a means of activating our bodily potentialities to move politically and to think politics with and through the body.  

Spasm portrays repetitive motions and involuntary gestures as a new form of dance that brings the body to politics. Spasmodic, explosive movements break away from the minor choreographies of our daily lives, as individuals engage with invisible impulses and struggles, encompassing the political and social forces, both real and imagined, that inhabit and shape the body.  

The last year of living with the pandemic has altered our relationship to our own bodies. Minute choreographies are continually rehearsed during these strange times; washing hands, wearing masks, and exercising self-discipline and social distancing have overwritten the familiar routines of an earlier, absent normality. Spasm explores this opportunity to ‘rearrange’ our relationship to our bodies and lead it into spheres of the political. Working with micro choreographies through sudden, impactful gestures and employing movement phrases inspired by the Deleuzian ‘spasm,’ these short digital films examine the forces that sit in our bodies when we work for hours on end at a desk, on a stool, on a sofa, and in the confined physical spaces around objects.  

Working with Dr Adam Hanna, author of Northern Irish Poetry and Domestic Space (2015), and the co-editor of Architectural Space in the Imagination (2020), Singh’s choreographies spring from research into the poetry of Seamus Heaney, as well as his study, its furniture and surrounding architecture. What forces work on a poet’s body when sitting for long hours at a desk? How did Heaney ‘turn’ to his table ( it was a flat piece of wood set on two filing cabinets), how did he move around it and away from it, what did he see and do when he was there, and what forces did it exert on his body as he wrote? These real and invisible forces hold the key to the workings of the body.    

Dancers: Emily Kilkenny Roddy and Dmitry Vinokurov

Research and guidance: Dr Adam Hanna, University College Cork

Curated by Chris Clarke

Venue: Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, Dublin

Commissioned by the Glucksman 


Rajpic Small

About the Artist

Rajinder Singh’s paintings, installations, photography, video and performance work explore ideas around the vulnerable body and its pain, interrogating the economies of power that deny it space and shape. Often focused on the power of ritual action in the construction of the social body, his practice explores the ways the human body unfolds around various topographic and symbolic borders.

Singh graduated with a PhD in Engineering (UK) in 1993 and a Master's in Fine Arts (Singapore) in 2010. He is the artist in residence at University College Dublin and part of the migrant artist group Art Nomad. He teaches body based movement-centred social justice courses as a guest lecturer at both Maynooth University (Geography) and UCD (Race, Migration and Decolonial Studies). In 2019, Singh was a recipient of the Artist-in-Community Award from Create Ireland and FireStation Studios and for a set of border area movement based workshops called ‘Ireland as Borderland’. His sculptures and performance based work are part of the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Arts Council of Ireland collections. Singh is the founder of the contemporary art review magazine Drenched Reviews.

Artist website