Image Image Image Image Image




Performance for Soundwave @ Center for New Music, Nov 29th 2017


I am delighted to support Soundwave Biennial for their eighth season in 2018. I will be performing a new a/v piece for their fundraiser at Center for New Music in SF on the Nov 29th 2017.

More details here



Intensities @ PULSE MIAMI BEACH, Dec 7th- 10th 2017



This year’s PLAY selections will be featured during PULSE Miami Beach 2017, which runs from December 7 – 10, 2017. Each of the nine works selected by Wahi and Jampol relate to this year’s theme of POWER, a theme the curators chose to define in a broad sense, inviting artists to explore the multiple iterations of the word, it’s definitions, and the myriad of ways to interpret and contextualize power.

PLAY Miami Beach 2017 Selections

Bolo, Carousel
Delphine Fawundu, “the cleanse”
Andy Fernandez, MIRIAM
Bang Geul Han, How to Remember the Black Book in Seoul
Melvin Harper, 3017
Amy Khoshbin, Protest
Surabhi Sharaf, Intensities
Rodrigo Valenzuela, El Sisifo
Ventiko, 꿈을 깨어 (Waking Dream)




PLUSE PLAY Preview @ Project for Empty Space, Oct 11th – Nov 19th, 2017

IMG_8557 copy

This year’s PULSE PLAY open call yielded a large cache of excellent submissions from all over the globe. After careful consideration, PES Directors Jasmine Wahi and Rebecca Pauline Jampol, who are curating PLAY, settled on nine artists addressing the idea of POWER.

In anticipation of the exhibition in Miami this December, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to do a special preview exhibition of the works in our Newark exhibition space.

Please join us for a PULSE PLAY Preview Party, hosted in collaboration with EqualSpace, on Tuesday, October 10th, from 5 – 8 PM. The exhibition runs through October 11th – Nov 19th, 2017

PLAY Miami Beach 2017 Selections

Delphine Fawundu“the cleanse”
Andy FernandezMIRIAM
Bang Geul HanHow to Remember the Black Book in Seoul
Melvin Harper3017
Amy KhoshbinProtest
Surabhi SarafIntensities
Rodrigo ValenzuelaEl Sisifo
Ventiko, 꿈을 깨어 (Waking Dream)



Public Lecture @ San Jose State University, Oct 24th 2017

Intensities HR 3

Surabhi Saraf will be giving an artist talk as part of the acclaimed weekly lecture series at San Jose State University, that brings in artists, designers, and critical theorists from around the world, broadening the students’ experiential base and complementing local offerings.

Surabhi Saraf : An Attentive Pause 


In this presentation, Surabhi Saraf will discuss what it means to be “present” in a hyperconnected world. She will explore the importance of deceleration and its relationship to technology, focusing specifically on technology as an enabler in the process of slowing down, to create space for an attentive pause, a moment of focus.

All lecture presentations are free and open to the public! Located in the SJSU Art Buildling Lecture Hall, Room 133.

Date(s) – October 24, 2017
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm




Brilliant Alarm @ Transform Festival, YBCA Aug 23rd 2017

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 5.01.24 PM

I have composed a 30 min long new soundtrack for Brilliant AlarmRAWdance‘s new commission for Transform Festival  at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. More info below:

Transform Fest 2017 features nine prolific Bay Area dance companies and art makers responding to the question “Why Citizenship?”. These commissioned works are designed to activate an immersive installation by sculptor and architect Giacomo Castagnola.

For its own new work, RAWdance will look at the recurring history of clashes between power structures and society’s intellectuals and culture makers: from the destruction of the library of Alexandria to China’s Cultural Revolution, the Khmer Rouge to the Spanish Civil War. Critical thinking has regularly and quite often violently been considered a threat, risky to those in power or those trying to usurp it. What does it mean to be an informed citizen?


Friday 15th 2017, 8 pm

Saturday 23rd 2017, 8 pm.

at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, get tickets here 



Performance @ Soundwave Biennial ((7)), Aug 27th 2016

Shinichi Still01

Surabhi will be performing a new audio visual piece for Soundwave Biennial ((7)) on Aug 27th. The performance features movement by Shinichi Iova-Koga and words by Dorothy Santos. Please see more details below.

Soundwave ((7)) Architecture: Re-­structured Futures

For our very first partnership with Gray Area and utilizing their historic theater in the Mission District, musicians and visualists explore virtual and imagined architectures through sound, movement, and visual storytelling to dismantle our notions of both physical and digital space. As San Francisco is currently experiencing rapid transformations of our cityscape, artists Surabhi Saraf, Nonagon, Colin Evoy Sebestyen, and Drought Spa reinterpret how our constructs echo ourselves in our minds and our bodies – the interconnections between the communities and the spaces they inhabit, and transparent realms inbetween.

Saturday Aug 27, 2016
8:00 PM
Gray Area Art & Technology Theater
2665 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA

Soundwave ((7)) Architecture explores sonic connections to our built environment which shape our lives as humans. This season commissions 30 new performances and works from over 50 dynamic artists to examine the rapidly transforming landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area and the world-at-large while considering the physical and phenomenological aspects of constructing, designing and inhabiting our built environments through sound. Daring artists will present projects that explore spatial acoustics, biological architecture, personal and communal site histories, urban somatic/acoustic fields, psychosomatic effects from architectural designs, ambisonics, architectural drawings as musical scores, and more. These works hope to inspire audiences to to listen beyond the surface, connect with each other and find innovative ways to see, hear, and interact with the environment around us.

Soundwave is San Francisco’s acclaimed biennial of innovative sound, art and music, now in it’s 7th Season. Every two years, MEDIATE Art Group launches a citywide summer-long, multi-venue experiential event series in San Francisco. Each season investigates a new idea through sound and invites diverse multidisciplinary artists and musicians to explore the season’s theme in new and innovative directions.



A+P+I Residency Exhibition Opens June 22nd 2016

Surabhi has been selected to participate in the Art + Process + Ideas(A+P+I) Residency Exhibition where she will be presenting new work along with fellow residents Carrie Hott and K.r.m Mooney.

Intensities, is a single channel video installation examines stillness as a way of being with our intensities, using them as a re-potentializing force. This work is a culmination of a six month residency through the A+P+I program at the Mills College Art Museum.

In addition to the video, Surabhi will be leading a workshop on Embodying Stillness, which also serves as the rehearsal for a performance on the opening night of the exhibition.

During the workshop participants will build a series of simple movements at an extremely slow pace, informed by their observations and reflections around the Mills College campus. The results will be choreographed into the final opening night performance. Some of the ideas we will be considering include ecologies of attention, stillness and action, and the iPhone.

Below is the schedule and more details:

WORKSHOP/REHEARSAL: Tuesday, June 21, 5:00–8:30pm

PRE-PERFORMANCE REHEARSAL: Wednesday, June 22, 4:00–6:00pm

PERFORMANCE: Wednesday, June 22, 7:00 pm


The Art + Process + Ideas Exhibition opens June 22nd from 6pm – 8pm
Dates: June 22nd – August 28th, 2016



Read: Essay by Himali Singh Soin on REMEDIES

The Factory of Feeling

Here, industry is intimate, sound is sinuous, the body, robotic. San Francisco based Surabhi Saraf journeys back to where she grew up, surrounded by the sights and sounds of her father’s pharmaceutical factory in Indore, re-creating the story of the medicine and the machine in the form of a series of multi channel audio-visual installations. What we experience is sound so primal that it might be mistaken for emanating from within the viewer, a dance between the maker and the thing made, simultaneously stoic and sensuous.

As a child, I wandered the factory premises, mesmerized by the machines, by the dazzling transformation of powder pressed into pills. This factory, made up of my father’s familiar face and his employees, who soon came to be adopted guardians and friends, was not the factory of filth or forbidden activity. It felt like a big house with many small rooms. Skittering between those long dimly lit corridors into the bright churning rooms, I loved bothering the workers with my childish curiosities! In 2012, while visiting our factory as a grown-up, I was amazed at how many of them still worked there, having become like an extended family, and how many machines were still in order. Their aged noise juxtaposed organically with newer more precise and quiet equipment. I wanted to capture all these elements—my memories, the machines, the men and women—and, having a history of making art with sound, that was where I began.

Though she strays from an overtly political narrative, at first drawing the eye to the aesthetics of color and sound in mechanistic processes, it is impossible not to view the work with a lens toward a post-industrial critique. In contrast to Marx or Benjamin—whose perspectives were unabashedly occidental—Saraf, distinguishes between labor and work, the one associated with banality, the other with meaning, offering a view of the factory that is not devoid of storytelling, a view of the factory not as vacant but as vibrant. It also presents the pharmacy, especially in rural India, as one that heals rather than harms. However, it is a vision that stems not from naiveté but actual embodiment: in the process of collaborating with actors, designers, cinematographers, Saraf’s artistic production came to mimic the processes of the factory itself. The theatre becomes therapeutic. It is in these collaborations with skilled and fairly paid work that she embeds her more utopian ideals.

The title of the show, Remedies, suggests a period of healing, and the necessary ritual of repetition requires for its undertaking. Repetition, as a structural device is a key to decoding Saraf’s work. The series comprises three parts: tablet, capsule and syrup- the first two are on view in this exhibition.

Each series includes a large central video projection and video box sculptures. The central video features a dozen performers in long, panoramic shots. The ambulatory pace of the camera and the light reflects the silently morphing mechanical flow of the substances depicted. The distinct processes and movements at the factory act as a score for choreographed interpretation and timing. Transformations, of solids into liquids and isolated chemicals into cohesive compounds become raw material for the sound installations and movement techniques.

In Tablet (2014), two multichannel video boxes feature a close-up of yellow pills and red pills moving as if on a conveyor belt, around the box. The circle, perfect and lit up, becomes a kind of spiritual or celestial end. The powder, first broken down, then decomposed, undergoes a variety of transformations. The medicine, once imbibed, heals the body, transforming it, much like the manner in which a character ‘dissolves’ within an actor, who is rendered transformed with each moment, each story. Much like the viewer is transformed by the art s/he intakes. The choreography follows an Aristotelian arc, with a beginning, middle and end, first crushing, grinding, then blending  and recomposing the tablets. In the middle, when the powder is pressed into form, the frenetic moment of varying syncopations climax into a real transformation, before the final calm, communal activity of packaging and boxing takes place, an appropriate ‘closing’ for the piece. The sound, sourced from field recordings from the factory’s granulator, shifter, octagonal blender, mass mixer and rotary, thrums with thrilling anticipation. The perpetual repetition of action and sound collapses time: a contemporary synthesizer smooths the edges of something old, something rusty.

Capsule (2014), contains a similar videobox of a chain of red and blue capsules in white plates moving in assembly, a white gloved finger, like a stage-hand, flicking the grid now and again. The sound begins to culminate, but releases before any sort of narrative forms. Simultaneously, on a large wall projection, performers in red shirts and blue latex gloves re-enact the workings of the pressure and force with which a thing is compressed into its container. Their motions are systematic, geometrical, robotic and yet there is child-like lightness in the play of primary colors, in the moment when we realize they are in sync but not dogmatically so, each bringing character and humanity to their individual cadence.

In Syrup (2014), the actors move as if in a room of wax, more fluidly but still in rigid motion. They move directionally, just as the sound too seems to transfer from one medium to another, from one time period to another, at first elemental, then electronic. The tension between rhythm and melody, between the harsh steely sounds and the softer aqueous ones mimics the tension between the repetitive nature of labor and the repetitive nature of breathing. She blurs the seemingly life-taking with the life-giving, likening the monotonous to meditation.

Saraf worked extensively with her family for research and source materials, then with an entire production crew—from choreography to camera to lights, costumes, actors, editors and sound designers—in order to construct this theatre of complexity, multiplicity. Her ambition can be charted in her influences: Pina Bausch, Bill Viola, Chris Cunningham and Pamela Z, yet she voyages a step further. In returning to her childhood, in returning to India and ‘home’, she employs the past. In employing post-modern dance techniques, video and electronic sound, she catapults into the future. Remedies, in dissolving linear time, dissipates the hierarchies of those ‘born privileged’ and those who ‘have no future’. Time itself is transformed, becoming a capsule. It remedies.


          — Himali Singh Soin

(For REMEDIES exhibition @ Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai)

capsule hands



REMEDIES : Solo Exhibition @ Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai, Oct 27th – Dec 10th 2015

Tablets, 2014 -6

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

6:30 – 8:30 pm 7 pm – The artist in conversation with Sumesh Sharma, Curator, Clark House Initiative Bombay

Exhibition Dates: October 28 – December 10, 2015

Situated within the broader discourse on humanization and labour, Surabhi Saraf’s ‘Remedies’ is inspired by her family’s pharmaceutical factory in Indore. Workers at the factory produce tablets, capsules and syrups, using quasi-archaic machinery. Re-imagining the space through abstraction and performance, Saraf alludes to the immersive qualities of the mechanical and the monotonous.

Each installation comprises an independent video box, and a wall projection. The minimally constructed video boxes display, on four sleek peripheral monitors, close-ups of the assembly line. Colourful pills find their way into shimmery packages, the occasional human intervention breaking the monotony. The wall projections feature performers enacting a choreographed sequence to echo the motions of the equipment and the factory workers.

To quote Genevieve Quick in her article ‘Mechanized Bodies: Anxiety and Healing in a Global Economy’, “Surabhi Saraf’s two video installations poetically explore the mechanization of the body with teams of performers. The performers push carts, and sort and package pills. They also throw and sift powders, alluding to the raw materials in the processing of medicines. The activity creates clouds of dust with an almost mystical atmosphere. Saraf’s intense sound, choreography, and environment transform the robotic and alienated motions of manufacturing into a ritualized dance of healing.”

Surabhi Saraf was born in Indore, India, in 1983. She earned a BFA in Painting from the M.S. University in Baroda, and an MFA in Art and Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA.  Saraf has held solo exhibitions at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai (2012), and Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (2014). Participations include among numerous others, ‘PLUS ONE’, Space@The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, USA (2015); Performance Festival, Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, Greece (2015); ‘We Are Ours’, Khoj International Artist Association, New Delhi (2013); New World New Sequences, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, USA (2012); and ‘Synchrony: Contemporary Video’, Hunter Museum of American Art, Tennessee, USA (2012). Saraf is a recipient of the 2015 Eureka Fellowship Award. She lives and works in San Francisco.

ss portrait galarie m+s