This is to revive this blog after two years. Two years is it? That’s quite a long time in blog memory. In any memory probably these days. There is only one reason to revive this blog. For me that is. It goes like this:
What’s the point? Every time I write a line, I erase it. That also goes for every line in every proposal I have written. I wish I didn’t have to write proposals because I wish people would understand that it has nothing to do with anything. I wish it was possible to explain to people who have money, that they need to find other ways around philanthropy. This proposal writing is a replicable, outdated model and it’s boring for everyone. And it says nothing about what is possible. This obviously means that I am writing proposals these days – in the air, like little tunes that start in the middle, like moments of self-belief to be immediately followed by crushing self doubt – and after the initial jubilation of completing one thought process, as excruciating as it is, there is another proposal / thought process to worry about. By then I’m usually over all of it. There are limits to everything including options. Just now there was a thought about what other way there is to have a fairly comprehensive idea of a person’s capabilities when it comes to making good and fair use of another person’s money. That thought came with its own little mental video. Nevermind. Sometimes proposals are their own art projects. I am a performer in my own eyes. I make videos sometimes. *My Work* is self combusting with every word in that Arthur Peleshian interview in which he talks about ‘distance montage’ and the encompassing of time in every second that does not exist for itself. Montage will never be the same again. Yet, how am I supposed to express this in a proposal? This crashing realization that everything I will do from now on will never be like anything I have done before? Or at least I hope not. How do I talk of this functionally? Arthur Peleshian took my lines away. He has undone precisely everything I had learnt to say and do by saying that we cannot look for cinema in its parts. .. All I am saying is that sometimes it isn’t possible for some people to say things the way most people have learnt to say them. But how on earth do you stop these silences from going unnoticed?
This has everything and nothing to do with reviving this blog. It is now revived!
‘place unconsidered, trilogy’ was my solo show at Project 88 in May this year.
These are the notes that accompanied it.
Baudrillard, in ‘The System of Objects’ writes: “The antique object’s role is merely to signify – it is structural, it refuses structure, it is the extreme case of disavowal of the primary functions – yet it is not functional nor purely decorative, for it has a very specific function within the system, namely the signifying of TIME. .. Not real time, but the signs and indices of time.”
“.. No matter how fine it is, an antique is always eccentric; no matter how authentic it is, there is always something false about it”.
The work here is composed of images that do not belong to a coherent place; the places here are composed of images that do not belong to a coherent moment. These are sound-image compositions in which ‘place’ is read in a few ways:
As erasures of narrative, but never letting go of its structures
As force fields in which the layers of place accrue but never locate
As repositories of histories that are not necessarily summoned
Many years ago I watched a film in which a woman goes into a video mausoleum – a vault of images, of people who no longer lived, but existed only in their images in video noise. She goes there to see her dead brother, and plays his image repeatedly. This scene made me think of the ability of the electronic image to stand in for presence, and then the limits of that presence. A friend called my work an “archive without presences”. I had never thought of archives without presences.
Somewhere the image of the video mausoleum has stayed with me.
The word trilogy here, wishes to be read as it appears in the poem: On becoming a trilogy for future music, by Rainer Maria Rilke. [And music in turn: as the most practiced distance, as the other side of the air .. ]
Portsmouth – 11th Jan 2010
I went to a meeting organized by an arts initiative and studio - a group people who work with the arts, organize international exchanges, artists, educators, mainly from the Portsmouth area.
The meeting was a discussion of a phase of regeneration in Somerstown, a part of Portsmouth that was earmarked for regeneration 10 years ago. Somerstown is the densest part of Portsmouth and has low figures with regard to housing, education and health services. In other words, there are high levels of deprivation. Residents and stakeholders came together with a vision of Somerstown.
“Vision: the aim of the Somerstown and North Southsea regeneration plan is the creation of a sustainable urban community. It will improve quality of life, foster local pride and act as a springboard for social and economic regeneration. This will be achieved by creating a safe, active and attractive environment with a new community heart.
Somerstown and North Southsea Regeneration Project Board and Regeneration Participation Group (RPG)” [From the website]
According to Jane who lives there and runs an artists’ space called ‘Space’, the residents are now cynical. They do not believe they will see this happen. They are afraid they will lose facilities and are being misinformed. None of this is a surprise . I was listening to this quite interestedly not so much because this is something that not is happening in most cities, but because I was trying to understand the word ‘regeneration’ as well, and the other word that is used in conjunction with it – ‘community’ here. Oliver, from the arts initiative organising this, had mentioned earlier that there haven’t been many opportunities to respond to ‘regeneration’ and that ‘community’ slips through ones fingers as soon as one tries to grasp it. I was interested also because most of the people at the table were connected in some way to art, and I was curious to know how they would interpret a moment like this, and what they would consider an ‘intervention’ into it to be. Jane has obviously engaged with it for a while, because she seemed to know it well – she was cynical though. She kept saying how people were tired of it. And then she talked about the ‘mashup’ : Art plus community plus local histories plus multimedia. And funding and spaces and galleries. Everyone seemed to know this. Clearly it hadn’t really happened, or when it had, didn’t manage to restore pride and facilitate change.
It was interesting talking about a place I was in, but hadn’t seen apart from the walk from the station. The walk from the station was through snow and it was hard to tell roads, and pavements in some places. Everyone had written three words about Somerstown – some of them were: thoroughfare, squashed, divided, separate, boxed in, fenced off ..
Then this man talked about how it is a thoroughfare enroute South Sea. That it is on the way to somewhere. That it has no deep roots and is transient. That made a lot of sense and I realized that transient places that feel like thoroughfares have to be infused with a sense of permanency. That is key. Transient is not home. Thoroughfare can’t be arrived at. Then I started to understand a little more why this regeneration business was such a sticking point. That it denied people a sense of a stable, static, immovable future. Or a future where Somerstown would be a desirable place to live. What struck me though is that regeneration takes over the imagination of a future that is safe and empowered and uplifted – which leaves very little room for any other imagination of it. It made me think of how we think of these things back in Delhi. Regeneration / Renewal . The group engaged with it without questioning it. The questioning would be of a different order from the ones we would ask in Delhi I imagine.