Looking back… John Ros

My journey began a while ago with initial video conferences with the five founding fellows. There was a separation in the process which felt good, but there was also a sort of urgency that felt implied. I had been asked to discuss initial ideas. As I settled into what would become a slightly insane semester teaching and directing the gallery, I awaited for the formal invitation letter which would initiate requests for funding. This process took its course and came to fruition. There (to Mumbai) and back already – and now I write.

Though there was organisation and communication there also needed to be a certain amount of flexibility. After all, this was the first time around for us all. Five founding fellows invited five plus-one fellows. Charlie Levine invited me. knowing many of the founding fellows from various art-related endeavours, I knew the project would be an exciting time at the very least. I was also very keen on getting to know Vishwa and Goto’s work more. I knew there were similarities, but I was uncertain how they would reveal themselves.

2018_mumbai-117john ros // reflection mumbai, india // 03-10 november 2018

Since the last few months have been absolutely bonkers, I left for India with only a few things and little expectation. I wanted to re-ground myself and experience something completely new. I don’t fear flying, but then again a twenty-hour commute is no joke. I slept on the first leg to London and tried to do some work on the second. Without wifi, I felt there was little I could do. I know that was not a correct assertion, but it seemed so at the time. I puttered around in the digital space of my work computer and anticipated by early Monday morning arrival at BOM. Vishwa had arranged a car for me which was appreciated, especially due to the 2am arrival.

No matter how much experience you gain, new experiences are always revealing in a way that feels profoundly human. After gaining access to the country and meandering a bit, I found my driver and though he got lost on the way, we managed to find our way to the yacht club. I woke Tash and fell asleep pretty quickly. We did not realise there was air con until the second night.

2018_mumbai-177john ros // reflection mumbai, india // 03-10 november 2018

I was a day behind everyone, but that never felt strange. I met many of the fellows at breakfast at the yacht club then we all grabbed a cab to the art space. Papaya and pineapple were a welcome treat with black coffee on this Monday morning. The space was light, airy, open. It felt as though there was a flow of energy both in the excitement of the creatives as well as the humming of the walls. Collaborative work would be done in this space over the next week and it felt fitting. Fertile. Upon arrival we met up with the remainder of the team as well as a mid-day reporter and photographer. We posed a bit and got to work. Intros first.

2018_mumbai-244john ros // reflection mumbai, india // 03-10 november 2018

These took a bit longer than they should have. Though there is so much to discover from each artist, there is a finite amount of focal control, especially after a long commute. I would have kept these intros within a maximum of 20 minutes each, however, it was great to get to know one another in this way. These would last into the next day with the addition of play project intros. Again, a bit much for the start – though I know there is much to get done.

Initially, I can only suggest a slightly more structured time-frame for these intros and play projects. Discussion will continue throughout the week.

I resorted to discuss only a portion of my process. Photos and placing my practice a bit more contextually. I am currently at a crossroads (or transition/milestone/etc.) with things both within my practice and how I talk about my practice. Process will likely stay similar, but output and inertia shifts. It feels like a core-thing. Like tectonics or paradigms. I am not totally ready to quantify this into words, but this will be something I aim to do throughout the next three months. The shift started in the beginning of this year and continues to grow. It is time to confront it. And release it.

2018_mumbai-358john ros // reflection mumbai, india // 03-10 november 2018

I knew immediately after meeting everyone and listening to their intros that I wanted to initiate one of my own play projects. Informally. I wanted this to be light and easy. I extracted a phrase that they said during their presentation and presented a typed A4 page to each creative. They were asked to do whatever they wanted with the page but I asked that they responded to it in one way or another. Not responding was also a viable choice. It was exciting to see the playfulness and connectivity happening through this process.

Throughout the week it was my focus to be completely present in the mind space of the week – though this sometimes proved difficult with the time difference. Having come from an intense and stressful job atmosphere, it was nice to be surrounded by support and rigorous thought and creativity. Something that evades my current faculty. I needed this space and time more than anything. I think I am still riding the high a bit, especially once the jet lag subsided. it was also amazing to enjoy the sights, sounds, smells of Mumbai. there is a magic… an electricity in the air. though I did less sightseeing and exploring than I might have allowed, I did get a chance to feel a part of the spaces I walked through. Again, this year is about transitions for me and this trip is helping to make these abstract notions tangible for me. There is also nothing wrong with abstract notions staying abstract.

Though the trip was quick, I was also ready to head back to the states… mostly to end this academic semester and move in new directions within my daily life. Though experiences like these are so fruitful and necessary for growth, I am also rooted within my local communities and think that the everyday involvement within these spaces are of utmost importance. Trying to make sense of new experiences and lessons learned can be more abstract when not applied to the everyday. That abstraction should be acceptable (and is) but between the the current space I find myself and this new inertia for evolution within my practice, I find myself a bit restless and looking for focused time to discover.

I am so appreciative of the generosity that was shown to me during this time and am encouraged that the energies shared during the week in Mumbai will ebb and flow into new and exciting spaces, conversations, moments and things. We so often forget to allow time for play. the emphasis on exploration through play so far has not only been appreciated, it has been a gentle hug of remembrance to continue to play and enjoy and be and breathe.


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