Project 88 is pleased to announce the opening exhibition of Artists’ Film International. Organized annually since 2009 by Whitechapel Gallery (London), Artists' Film International showcases artists working with film, video and animation, selected by 17 partner organizations around the world and presented over the course of a year at each venue.
Pallavi Paul represents Project 88 in the third edition of it’s collaboration and her selection comprises Karen Mirza and Brad Butler’s The Unreliable Narrator, Srdjan Keca’s Museum of Revolution, Vahap Avsar’s Road to Arguvan, Tanya Busse and Emilija Skarnulyte’s, Hollow Earth.
To think about conflict in the contemporary prompts us to ask the question- who or what is in conflict today? Derived from Latin words con (together) and fligere (to strike), we get confligere or ‘conflict’ – to ‘strike together’ or ‘stuck together fighting’. To strike could be to launch a sudden attack, but it could also be a refusal to act as a mark of protest. A strike could also be a phenomenon spilling out of human control, like an epidemic or a natural calamity. That which perhaps stays relevant in all readings of what conflict could be is the idea of the collective. Whether it was the metal workers of South Africa in 2014 who led a successful historic strike against powerful corporations, or Syrian refugees forced to flee to the edges of alien cities, the siege on Tunisia’s National Museum or the deserted mills of Lower Parel pregnant with the possibilities of disuse- the distinct destinies of many lives find themselves intertwined within an uncertain pulsating future. The impulse to breakaway together is perhaps stronger than ever.
The films in this selection are an instance of such a collective. Karen Mirza and Brad Butler’s The Unreliable Narrator masterfully combines the questions of memory, perspective, documents and imagination. Traveling into the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai, the film uses the vision of surveillance cameras, a Bombay Film Camera, an intercepted satellite phone call to produce a robust image of not only the ‘unreliable narrator’ but also the unreliable listener. Another response to the tension between precision and invention is The Museum of Revolution, by Srdjan Keca, which looks inside a building that according to its architect was “made to safeguard the truth about us”. Architect and artist Vjenceslav Richter undertook this massive project in socialist Yugoslavia to showcase and revel in national history. The project was eventually abandoned and what remained was a dilapidated concrete specter, now inhabited by the homeless and marginalized. In creating a poetic impression of the lives being lived in the labyrinths of this crumbled dream, we are never pushed to choose simply between reclamation and despair. Vahap Avsar’s, Road to Arguvan, too looks at ruination, but as a violent force; a two-minute portrait of a chasm like crack that Avsar encountered on his trip to Maltaya. As the camera skims along this road we see a television embedded into a massive crack. Perhaps the possible witnesses of this violence have also fallen prey to it. Or have fled leaving behind even its images. The work mobilizes the geological to look into the troubled political history of Anatolia. Finally the geological also becomes a site of the contest of violence, ambition and plundering in Tanya Busse and Emilija Skarnulyte’s Hollow Earth. Set in the circumpolar North, the film looks at the ways in which this layered, frozen landscape is negotiated by vision. Further, what is the relationship between visibility and resources? A combination of scientific observations, archival footage and evocative camera work, the film raises several questions about the ways in which this frozen ‘elsewhere’ is changing, with the echoes of the world that surround it.
Con- to fool , fligere- together. To fool together. In deception. In magic too a new world can be.