Push Pull - Call for Proposals - Archives at NCBS Gallery


SEASON 4 | CALL FOR PROPOSALS | Archives at NCBS Gallery Exhibition



Information sessions: Push/Pull: Archives at NCBS Gallery Exhibition: Call for Proposals
Open discussion to answer submission questions
1.    Sunday, Jul 3, 2022. 11:00 AM Indian Standard Time
2.    Sunday, Jul 10, 2022. 11:00 AM Indian Standard Time
3.    Sunday, Jul 24, 2022. 11:00 AM Indian Standard Time
4.    Sunday, Aug 7, 2022. 11:00 AM Indian Standard Time
Online meeting location:
Meeting ID: 939 7183 5535
Passcode: 202206

Gallery Background Information
The Archives at NCBS (https://archives.ncbs.res.in/) is a public centre for the history of science in contemporary India. As part of its public engagement, the Archives commissions public-facing exhibitions. We are delighted to announce a public call for proposals to develop ‘Push/Pull’, the working title for Season 4 of the exhibition series in our gallery space. 


Document history (any updates on this page after initial call will be summarized here):
Revision 0, Jul 1 2022: Original document
Revision 1, Jul 13 2022: Added one information session for proposal submission queries on Jul 24 2022.
Revision 2, Aug 1 2022: Added one information session for proposal submission queries on Aug 7 2022.


Important dates
Aug 15 2022 [anywhere on earth, UTC -10 hours. https://www.worldtimeserver.com/time-zones/aoe/]: Proposal submission deadline
Sep 30 2022: Announcement of winning proposal and start of project
Oct – Dec 2022: Exhibition concept, pre-fab design
Jan 5 – Jan 15 2023: Installation
Jan  – Oct 2023: Exhibition is live.
Early Nov 2023: Exhibition take-down


Exhibition Theme: Push/Pull
For a rocket to launch into space, forces of thrust need to exceed the forces of drag and gravity. Rainer Maria Rilke tussled with his poems for 10 years before completing the Duino Elegies. The Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT) between the United States and the Soviet Union began in 1969 and continued through 1979, directly impacting the number of nuclear weapons being produced. When the first queen bee emerges from her honeycomb cell, she engages in a series of back and forth high pitched chirps with her sisters to locate and eliminate any challenges to leadership. 

In each of the cues above, we can see instances of push-pull, literal and otherwise. We see a struggle, a conflict, two steps forward, one step back, a push here, a pull there--you get the point. Push/Pull can be about the push of an abstract idea into reality, the pull and call of the beyond-reach and the push away from it. We encourage applicants to interpret the poetics and logics of push and pull that underlie physical and social processes at every level. What we shared are just examples that illustrate different ways to think about this theme. The applicant is at full liberty to explore ways of approaching this theme, and not be bound by any of our cues.

What can all the push/pull forces acting within a single cell membrane show us about the natural world and how might they mirror other worlds? How does an iterative approach push ideas into inventions? What kind of a tussle characterises the mentoring relation between a novice and an expert? How do institutions evolve with both conflict and harmony? Can you show how you will push the interpretation of archival objects to unexplored domains while pulling and teasing out new narratives from them. 

Alright, we’ll stop. But we’ll say this again. Feel free to explore ‘Push/Pull’ the way you like, and not be bound by any of our cues! Your proposal does NOT need to be science-y. But it has to tell a good story at the intersections of history, design, culture and science. 

Scope of project

Curation of content for the exhibition, including development of the narrative.
Design and production of the exhibition, including production/construction of exhibition material, installation and promotions.
Disassembly of the exhibition after the end date for the exhibition to restore the gallery to its original condition.

Exhibition location
1.    On-site: The main exhibition should be a physical installation that uses the Archives Gallery space. Other optional physical spaces include the Archives Reception Corridor, Archives Basement Lobby and the adjacent Amphitheatre.  For space dimensions of the gallery and other spaces, here is the Plan view of the Archives at NCBS: http://bit.ly/ArchivesPlanView20180706. And here is a 360 Camera view of the Archives at NCBS (including exhibition space with current exhibition: Herbs, Maps and Medicine) as of January 2021: https://viewer.divein.studio/story/pwz-WP7

2.    Traveling/Remote:  Some exhibition components should be accessible remotely. This could be a virtual tour and/or a separate exhibition website, which will later be added to the Archives at NCBS website. Or a Mozilla Hubs installation. Or nuggets of the exhibition distributed in other physical locations, all accessible through a common digital portal.


The winning proposal can be supported up to Rs 5 lakh (Rs 5,00,000) + 18% GST. This includes everything – artist fees, costs toward production, design, printing, travel, installation, material use fee (if a submission is using material from a source that requires a use fee), publicity, any other taxes. NCBS will not be covering any costs toward submissions of project proposals for this exhibition.


Target audience 

Exhibitions at the Archives at NCBS have diverse audiences. We understand that no single exhibition can work for everyone. At the same time, every exhibition can have elements that speak at different levels. For what it’s worth, most visitors tend to be between 20-40 years old. School groups and families with little kids also routinely visit the Archives. 

Content/narrative guidelines

1. Your proposal for the exhibition should address the theme, Push/Pull. It should also show that you have thought about narrative and the intersections of history, design, culture and science.

2. The applicant’s proposal should include at least one archival object from the Archives at NCBS:

3. The applicant is expected to find ways to fit the object(s) to their narrative. The aim is to show ways in which one can connect objects from various archives to each other. There is no maximum number of objects that can be used in the narrative and this will have no bearing in the review process. Applicants can use material from a variety of archives and libraries around the world (through their digital catalogues). For instance, Season 2 and 3’s exhibitions used content from dozens of different sources around the world, including some from the Archives at NCBS.

4. The applicant is responsible for gathering content and getting permissions to use archival material or any other material. (At the time of submitting a proposal, you do not need to get permissions). Content can be contemporary or archival records - letters, newspaper clippings, annotated manuscripts, reports, photographs, oral history recordings and video recordings, equipment, specimens, original material created for the exhibition. The Archives at NCBS will assist the winning proposal in getting permissions for use of material and try to convince the material source to allow use of material without a fee. But the Archives will not bear any additional costs toward material use fees.

5. The Archives at NCBS can provide original records and/or high resolution digital copies of original records at no cost. It can also help with connecting with archives and libraries to provide high resolution copies of original records. To reiterate, the final responsibility and costs of printing and licensing, if any, is with the applicant.

6. The primary language for exhibition text is English. It should also include some Kannada translations (such as a curatorial note and captions, if any). 



The applicant has control over the editorial choices of their exhibition. The exhibition should be factually accurate and, to the extent possible, opinions should be clearly substantiated in the exhibition. The Archives will facilitate the work and ensure that the applicant’s story gets told in a way that honours their practice and thought. However, as the publisher for the exhibition, it does reserve rights to all final publishing decisions.


Past exhibitions

Season 1: Backstage of Biology
Feb 2019 – Jan 2020. 
Curated by Srajana Kaikini, Naveen Mahantesh and Meera Baindur.
Images from the exhibition: http://bit.ly/ArchivesGallery1a
Curator's note: “The Archives at NCBS carry several stories within. Prominent among them is the story of a science institution representing the growth of biology in the history of science in India. Its institutional history is deeply entangled with the people who made it. This exhibition behaves as a logbook of various thought-notes, annotations and perspectives that the archive enables. We bring to the fore an understanding of biology as a collective endeavour, one which illuminates the situatedness, the socio-cultural contingency and the humane face of science, between lab and the field.”


Season 2: Herbs, Maps & Medicine: An interpretive exhibition of commerce and spice
Feb 2020 – Dec 2021
Curated by Anna Spudich. Designed by Abhishek Ray and Matrika Design Collaborative. Written by Gayathri Vaidyanathan.
Images from the exhibition: http://bit.ly/ArchivesGallery2
Curator’s note: http://www.ncbs.res.in/events/apls-apls-20200214-spice-trade-matrika


Season 3: Bodies at Sea
Mar 2022 – Dec 2022
Curated and designed by Devika Sundar and Kamini Rao/Studio Slip
Images from the exhibition: https://studioslip.com/bodiesatsea-ncbs-exhibition-design
Curator’s note: In "Bodies at Sea" we traverse the boundaries between the visible and unknown, examining the hidden complexity of our interior bodies alongside oceanic bodies of the deep sea. Through our explorations, we search and discover an uncanny, affectual and visual synergy between internal bodyscapes, and marine forms and aquatic environments. Responding to a collection of visual, textual, material and audio archives across medical and marine journals and databases, we particularly trace layers that lie invisible, curious, obscure and yet to be unearthed in these mirroring environments.
Original CFP: https://archives.ncbs.res.in/Boundaries

Provisions and Production Site

Archives at NCBS can provide the following: A digital projector (anchoring location can be changed), a portable tablet for table-mounted digital displays, a smart phone for WiFi projection and other uses, track lighting in gallery space with provisions for directional lights, ceiling white lights, electrical outlets, WiFi, temperature and humidity control, and up to 500 GB of server space for any digital components. Wall and ceiling colours can be modified by the applicant, as long as the gallery can be brought back to original condition at the end of the exhibition. Main production of exhibition should be off-site and components should brought in for on-site assembly. The exhibition site should not be used for production work that will generate debris (wood or metal chips, for instance). The only exceptions to this will be direct anchoring to the gallery and painting of interior walls.


Copyright and ownership

Repositories that loan use of their original material or reproductions of the same shall retain original rights wherever applicable. All elements created specifically for the physical/digital exhibition should be available in the future under a creative commons license, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.


Review process

The jury will consist of 4-5 individuals: the Archivist at the Archives at NCBS, one senior member of the Archives Review Committee, and 2-3 external members with experience in curation and design of physical exhibitions. The jury is selected after submissions and care is taken to the extent possible to ensure there are no conflicts of interest for any jury members. The jury will review the proposals after the submission deadline. Each jury member will evaluate independently. Submissions will be assessed along the evaluation criteria mentioned below. After collating evaluations, a maximum of 3-5 submissions will be short-listed for further interviews, if needed. After this, one submission will be awarded the project, and the work will begin with the Purchasing Department to complete the financial formalities. Based on past experience, the evaluation is usually a five-step process. After a winning proposal is announced, each submission receives a detailed note outlining the process, including the number of submissions received, names of jury members, number of entries in the long list, short list, interview, and final assessment of the winning proposal.


Submission Guidelines

All submissions should ONLY be through our online form: https://bit.ly/pushpull2022. No other mode of submissions will be accepted.

Please upload all proposal documents to a cloud-based folder (e.g. Google Drive or Dropbox) from where the Archives at NCBS can download a folder of files for your submission. 

The proposal should be in English and address the evaluation criteria listed below.

Proposal submission should be done by Aug 15 2022 [anywhere on earth, UTC -10 hours. https://www.worldtimeserver.com/time-zones/aoe/] 

Please do not submit any financial details at this stage. For your submission, we just need to see the details mentioned in the evaluation criteria.

Campus Visits: Applicants are welcome to schedule visits to the Archives at NCBS if it would help in gauging the available space and surroundings. The Archives at NCBS is open Monday-Friday, 10am-5:30pm, and weekends by appointment. If you’d like to set up time to meet the team here, please send an email to archives at ncbs dot res dot in about three days prior to your planned visit (or call 080-6717-6011). As of Jun 30 2022, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the campus requires visitors to have face masks on throughout your time on campus. 

Evaluation criteria

Team and Experience (10 %): One or two leads and a professional team capable of delivering the project. Where relevant, please provide curriculum vitae. A team should illustrate competence – based on experience and work – in curation, space design and physical installation work, graphic design, and/or archival research, and development of a coherent story.

Work Plan (10 %): A project plan with defined timeline and tasks. Keep an eye on dates and budget (you don't need to submit a detailed budget, but you should know how you might distribute funds).

References (10 %): List of three references (includes at least one from a research institute). We only need contact information and not actual reference letters at this stage.

Design Flow and Portfolio (20 %): Share a digital copy of portfolio to show previous work of individuals and/or team. Include details of at least one past project that illustrates the path from conceptual design to being realized for final product. Not all professionals who are part of the proposal team need to be represented in such an example.

Proposed Design (40 %): Detailed proposal based on mentioned guidelines. Proposal is evaluated for attention to curation (a clear sense of potential source material), storytelling (a clear sense of a potential narrative) and to design (a clear sense of how the physical and digital spaces will be used). Your proposal for the exhibition should address the theme, Push/Pull. It should show that you have thought about narrative and the intersections of history, design, culture and science. You illustrate potential use of contemporary or archival records and original material created for the exhibition. Your proposal should include at least one archival object from the Archives at NCBS. Your proposal should also take into consideration the requirements of the exhibition location, target audience, and creative commons license for material created specially for the exhibition. It should follow the guidelines for content/narrative listed on the Push/Pull call website, including Kannada signage. 

Local Collaboration (10 %): Demonstration that the team can fulfill the requirements of building the exhibition at NCBS in Bangalore.