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Review

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Written by Priya Sen

July 1, 2011 at 2:53 am

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place unconsidered, trilogy

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‘place unconsidered, trilogy’ was my solo show at Project 88 in May this year.

These are the notes that accompanied it.

I.

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”.

II.

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

III.

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.

IV.

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 .. ]

 

(http://www.project88.in/#)

Written by Priya Sen

July 1, 2011 at 2:41 am

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Note from a year ago: Mash-Up in Somerstown

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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.

Written by Priya Sen

January 2, 2011 at 12:06 pm

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Sculpting In Time p.10

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Written by Priya Sen

September 7, 2010 at 10:48 am

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Open Studio at Gasworks

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Written by Priya Sen

June 13, 2010 at 9:37 pm

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Working Titles

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Three months at the Gasworks residency resulted in three videos, archival material, a reworking of a diary,
and an open studio in which they were viewed in combination with each other. There was also a screening of the videos separately.
Work 1: UNRULY DOCUMENTS *  [*to be activated in the present]
The material used here, explored the relationship between personal history and place, as multiple narrations of absence. The attempt was to over-narrate absence, as a device through which it might be possible to sense the movements and repetitions of history in the present. Similar in perception to déjà vu, a layer – over and beneath – like a hologram, a symbol,an after-image.
I see the work as an activation of documents from the archive that would rather resonate with the indeterminacy of the present rather than remain as evidence of the past.
This work is situated in London and Kolkata, and excavates documents and footage related to the tea-trade between England and India. It tries to find accounts, resonances and connections through transactions of tea over time, that conjure up a larger sense of lost time, absence in presence, and a desire to engage with the silences that are produced when things irreversibly change. This was the first phase of a larger film or series of videos.
Work 2: INVENTORY
This diary that my grandfather wrote when he was alive, is an obsessive recounting of the everyday. In becoming its own inventory it relinquishes control of the very world it has created. It overcomes the banal ways of relentless recall and its hold over dailiness. It ceases to be a record unto exhaustion.
I worked with a series of stills of passing shots – across a bridge, an airplane landing, a train through a snowy landscape and an entrance to a metro station. I made a looped video that produced the opposite effect that the diary did. It worked against detail, record and pause, and commented on its own disjointed sense of time. The ‘Inventory’ is a book in progress, that will draw upon the relationship between the moment of the writing of this diary, and the moment of its interpretation and transformation. I see it drawing in a range of material that will annotate the time that is present in it.
Work 3: NIGHT UNDER CONSTRUCTION
There is a line in Michel De Certeau’s ‘Walking in the City” from “The Practice of Everyday Life” that I start this video with.
The image of the city as seen from above – the theoretical city, that city of the voyeur Gods, and the one that has been imposed, almost super-imprinted onto itself – is in contact with the city that is inhabited by the city’s ‘actual practitioners’.
This video is also about the city that will never stop being made – where the making gets hidden and new structures emerge with the light of each new day.At night, the city is being made. The movements are slow, almost immobile. The only light is a glow that illuminates its depths, revealing them to be its momentary surface.
There is a sense that the people who are on this road will disappear. They remain unseen to those who order the city to be built, or to those who pass by. There is brief respite – a dream caught briefly in a passing headlight. [Or the dream is respite.] The passing becomes its surface again.
This video is located in New Delhi, as it is going through massive structural changes in the wake of the Commonwealth Games later this year.

Written by Priya Sen

June 13, 2010 at 8:45 pm

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Studio Life Cycle

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The studio from start to finish. Ended with an open studio from March 26th – 28th, 2010.

Written by Priya Sen

April 9, 2010 at 10:29 am

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