Ayneh is a 1997 Iranian film directed by Jafar Panahi, about a girl trying to find her way home. This film concentrates on time, repetition and the visual memory of a place. In the first half of the movie, a girl is who is finding her way home from school is shown and the film takes a whole new turn when the girl, as an actor decides to stop acting for the film, but the cameras never stop rolling and the team decides to follow her, finding her way home from where they were shooting. The film Ayneh, meaning mirror shows two stories following the same storyline of a girl and her encounters. While watching the movie, our whole sense of space and time shifts between when she knew she was acting and when she knew she wasn’t. The film is talking about the film and the process of making films, that in it becomes the character of the film. The film continues even when the film within film stopped. In the film it was interesting to see how the girl’s attitude changes and how she becomes more confident in her journey when she is angry and is herself. Even though the film had stopped, the film’s storyline continued and the stories of the people around the girl kept coming in.
Spaces the paintings play with
- Untitled 1969
- This is a very modern contemporary style of art. The painting and the colour palette gives off a very gloomy feel to it. It has visual section created by textures.
- Untitled, 1962
- This painting is very distinctly divided into two sections. These sections are created by the greyish black strokes in the top section of the painting. It looks like water colour through the fluidity and the stability of the strokes at the same time. For me, Gaitonde has just tried to show a mood that is abstract and open for the viewers interpretations.
- Painting No.4, 1962
- This painting, also like the others, has very distinct sections that merge into one another. The black strokes in the middle are very similar to the previous painting but look more isolated but also more defined by the bright yellow and red strokes. The black space left in the middle of the canvas draws all your attention when you first look at it. The whole painting again has a very unsettling feel to it with the colour palette of dark beige, brown, greyish blue and black.
Sri Sri Lanka at Tarq, was an art exhibition by a Sri Lankan solo artist, Pala Pothupitiye. Through this exhibition the artist tries to show the relationship between art and maps. With the help of print and paint, the artist has created info graphics of the nation’s history acknowledging it’s various interpretations and conflicts.
This painting is a classic example of the info graphic quality of the exhibition. The above painting shows various views of the Jaffna Fort. It is a combination of the place’s map, technical sketches of the fort, text and an illustration of Hanuman and the fort. The text and the illustrations indicate the historic beliefs and notions of the place whereas the map and sketches indicate it’s physical presence.
Performance art is an art that is performed live, mostly by an artist but sometimes with collaborators or performers. Performance art mostly consists of four elements: time, space, the performer’s body and a relationship between the audience and performer. It can be planned and scripted or spontaneous and random.
Gilbert and George are known for their colourful wall sized paintings and their trademark performance art of Living Sculptures. In their live performance they wander around the city streets covered in metallic make up so much that they resemble a sculture. The idea was to “collapse the distance between art and artists.” In 1970, Gilbert and George developed this further and first performed their famous Singing Sculpture, at the Nigel Greenwood Gallery. Again coated in metallic make-up, the duo stood on a table and moved in robotic movement to comedy double-act, Flannagan and Allen’s 1930’s music hall song “Underneath the Arches” – about the homeless men who slept under railway arches during the Great Depression.
This space is a hybrid of the door room from Alice in Wonderland and a library. This space is a long hall surrounded by doors, all locked with different combinations. Each door opens up to a different world of imaginations and possibilities. These worlds are created through different genres of the book. Each door opens up to a different genre of books. To get into these spaces a person has to crack the combinations on the locks. To crack these combinations one has to answer a set amount of questions that eventually leads the person to the password. This way it also ensures if you are worthy enough to get into that section.
“When the image is new, the world is new.”
― Gaston Bachelard,
Through The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard shares his study of the ‘magical’ cosmos of childhood, home and its imaginary spaces. When an established philosopher of science suddenly turns all his efforts to the realm of art, something new and a little different is bound to be the written result.
Bachelard was a phenomenologist, holding the view that there was a dynamic interplay between an active mind and its surroundings. He creates a distinct psychological threshold between open and closed, inside and outside, arrival and departure
In the tenth chapter, ‘Phenomenology of roundness”, he quotes people talking about rotundity.
“Life is probably round”
“He had been told that life was beautiful. No! Life is round.”
“A walnut makes me quite round”
“A bird is almost completely spherical”
Bachelard believed that being is round. Everything surrounding life was a metaphor to being round. It is not in the physical or visual shape. Not by geometry but by perception. In the last part of the chapter he talks about how it is in the image of being that one can relate to the quotes.
The round cry of round being makes the sky round like a cupola. And in this round landscape, everything seems to be in response.
“The round being propagates its roundness, together with the calm of all roundness.”
Lakeer by Shruti Mahajan is a short, extremely visual video that demonstrates the partition of a country in three simple steps, drawing, making and dividing. Lakeer is a line or a boarder, using India as an example she shows how the partition occurred in India and created the “lakeers” This short film has taken inspiration and interacts with the poem Ae Roshnion ke Shahar by Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
Using no spoken words, through this film the artist tries to explain what happens to a country during a partition in a two-dimensional way i.e on paper. She shows how politicians use maps to divide areas that are then conceptually mimicked in reality. They draw boarders that don’t actually exist and try separating places through manmade objects to create boundaries, which in turn becomes a conceptual limit in reality.
The first step is “drawing” where she draws new lines over the maps changing existing boundaries. Therefore just by drawing lines over a map the geography of a country changes at a global scale.
The second step is “making”. This word is taken literally in the video where S. Mahajan is shown cutting out fences like boundaries, which, is symbolic to how men create the actual boundaries at boarders with some kind of fencing or in the case of Indian, and Kashmir, barbed wires. These boundaries that are so easily just cut out to put on maps but the real equivalent would have colossal implications. These notions are made absolute by lawmakers.
The final step is “dividing” which is portrayed in the video by a haphazard cutting of the Indian map. This shows the destructive quality of partitions and how such tiny actions could have such tremendous implications, dividing an entire nation. This divide then creates conflict and within countries and people, giving rise a divide, not only geographically but culturally.
This video according to me was simple and accurate. It displays the process of partition in a very mechanical way making it easy for a viewer to understand it and draw appropriate conclusions.
Lakeer, a short film by Shruti Mahajan, filtered in a simple black and white is an interactive video in response to the poem ‘ Roshniyon Ke Shahar ‘ by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. The film is an eye opening abstraction of the borders, tangible and intangible that demarcate spaces, partition spaces and create contested spaces. The film focuses on India in particular but hints the occurrence and universality of these spaces all the world.
Cultural and religious diversity in India already creates differentiation between people. However, far greater than this, is the constant subjection to and awareness of the turmoil and hardships faced in this country, which usually trace back to the political barriers that are created through greed and hunger for power. Kashmir is one of the simplest examples, even highlighted in the short film, a space divided and torn between two countries through intangible barriers, the perfect example of a contested space.
Shruti Mahajan, defines boundaries, she defines partitions and division of spaces in three distinct steps. The first step, ‘Drawing’ is the demarcation of boundaries by tracing over an existing map of India. The lines are continuous in response to the sound in the background. Flat or dotted, they represent concrete and indefinable limitations spaces in India. A country is made by its people, a two dimensional map, a simple drawing of a line defines how they are divided.
The second step is ‘Making’ where the film focuses on hands, cutting out three-dimensional barricades from paper. These are the physical representations of borders, limits and spaces. They are skillfully cut as extrusions to the ‘Drawing’ previously made and respond to the barbwires actually present.
The final step is ‘Dividing,’ here the camera focuses on states like Hyderabad and Kashmir being cut by a set of large scissors, imperfectly. After slowly going through and removing those states, the leftovers of India and then mercilessly cut into smaller finer pieces, representing the larger and smaller contested spaces that together form a whole.
The entire film, zoomed into just the hands and the tools used to perform certain activities, is more impactful with the close shots that continue throughout the film. The viewer completely focuses on the map, it’s definition using rough charcoal, it’s extrusion through paper barriers and its division through scissors, that don’t always follow any set line or any set barrier. They are tangible and intangible ‘Lakeers.’
For many people, the term ‘contested spaces’ immediately conjures up an image of hard concrete walls or high fences euphemistically known as the ‘peace walls’. Walls however are not what define spaces. It’s the people who build them that do.
The battle for ownership in our culture seems to be on going with no visible end. Whether it is our streets, shopping malls, play grounds, the virtual world, our houses or legal spaces, the conflict continues.
WHO OWNS WHAT?
The environment is shared. It is we who choose to divide it into public space and private space. This brings up questions of who is allowed to use a space, when and in what way. Do we essentially own these spaces or do we borrow and occupy them?
In our virtual world, we like and share other people’s work. As designers we take “inspiration” from others’ work. Sometimes I question whether that’s okay. Maybe, just may be we are intruding their mind space? Unknowingly, we seek their brilliance and twist it up a little to make it our own.
For example, A takes inspiration from B’s work to form something new. A initiated the idea so it must be his to own. At the same time, B changed it around and added to it. It must be his as well. Who really has the right to “OWN” it?
A state of architecture is a three month long exhibition held at the NGMA. It begins by questioning the importance of architecture in India and presents the state of contemporary architecture with a larger historic overview since independence. Architect and academic Rahul Mehrotra, poet and cultural theorist Ranjit Hoskote and the editor of Domus magazine, Kaiwan Mehta, curate it collaboratively.
The focus of this project is post independence architecture with a special emphasis on the last twenty years. As one walks into the exhibit, he/she is welcomed with a burst of bright colors such as red and yellow. On the ground floor is an array of info-graphs giving away the statistics of architects, growth of architecture schools, the place and changing value of architects in the industry, etc. the number of women architects has also been given emphasis with a separate chart which brings up a topic for discussion. There is a wall dedicated to the covers of magazines showing a change in subject of topics over the years.
As you move up to the first floor, you will see an array of buildings/ structures that are different from the usual. Pictures of such buildings from all over the country are framed and play hide and seek among the pillars that section the area. The floor above was the most fascinating with walls that respond to movement. They have sensors in them that track human motion and move inwards and outwards themselves. This was really impressive and learning that they were built with the help of student volunteers made the experience even more memorable.