Aperitif is structured like a book within which each object is a page. Modelled on Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s Rhizome Theory, this book can be continually added to, altered and shuffled. Additions to Aperitif can be seen here. All objects are made by pasting layers of tissue paper and incorporating found photographs within them.
Like several other works, Aperitif, is based on a story Rao wrote in 2019 and which remains at the crux of her art practice. In this story, a woman develops a condition of involuntary and spontaneous teleportation. Each time she teleports, a part of her body gets left behind in the place of departure leaving her fragmented. If one were to make a portrait of this woman, it would be in the form of a map of the world with her body scattered across its surface. In this story, humor and dispersal are used to address the fragmentary—rather than cohesive—and distanced experience of oneself, a fractured and disparate sense of belonging, a “falling apart” of the mind—a loss of control, and a disconnection from intimate body parts. Drawing from practices of bondage and harnessing, the fragile paper objects are failed contraptions that the protagonist devices to hold herself together and thereby to regain control. Certain objects resemble parts of garments. In 2023, Rao traveled to Japan on a grant from Japan’s Center for Contemporary Art to study kamiko, Japanese paper garments made with washi, which has made its way into Rao’s work.
To activate her work Aperitif, Rao performs with the paper objects, setting up moments to pause upon - moments that are served in the form of courses. As suggested by the title, format and hand-held scale of the objects, this work is informed by Rao’s research into alcoholic beverages.
This work was performed at Bolderāja in Riga, Latvia. The 25 minute performance was accompanied by a soundtrack.
An excerpt of the performance can be seen below.
Showcard designed by Sui Lam