Flaherty at MoMA: Turning the Inside Out
|When||21 Jun 2014 - 29 Jun 2014|
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019
Each year MoMA’s Department of Film collaborates with one of the Robert Flaherty Film Seminars—the longest continuously running film programs in North America and a one-of-a-kind institution that seeks to encourage filmmakers and other artists to explore the potential of the moving image—on an exhibition that focuses on films and filmmakers working in a specific thematic area. The Flaherty’s 60th Anniversary Seminar probes the essence and frontiers of the form that inspired its beginnings: the documentary.
Turning the Inside Out, organized by programmers Caspar Stracke and Gabriela Monroy, examines the state of documentary as it travels between the art gallery, the cinema, and the interactive screen. In an era of colliding genres and mediums, what holds documentary together from the inside out? What can a radical, Godardian focus on the form of documentary—”Who speaks and acts, from where, for whom, and how?”—reveal about the politics, poetics, and ethics of making media today? And how effective is the chosen form?
To answer these questions, the curators turn to a unique group of documentary artists—some of whom produce new aesthetic idioms, and others who move seamlessly between media without changing their vocabulary. Together they ask: which genre (essay film, auto/biography, docufiction) and exhibition form (theater, gallery installation, Web-based platform) best supports the expression of an idea, and how can form optimize documentary’s potential to connect us to unfamiliar places, objects, or situations? In confronting the effectiveness of form, the works in this program amplify new and unexpected tensions: between the need to participate and the desire to withdraw; between aesthetic expression and direct action; between staying inside or going out.
For this year’s program, MoMA and the Robert Flaherty Seminars present three artists, each representing one particular aspect of this topic: Shuddhabrata Sengupta from Raqs Media Collective (New Delhi) and Shaina Anand from CAMP (Mumbai), representing their respective artist collectives, and Scottish moving image artist Duncan Campbell.
Related Film Screening:
The Capital of Accumulation
2010. India. Directed by Raqs Media Collective. “The Capital of Accumulation writes an oblique narrative of the relationship between metropolises and the world in counterpoint to Rosa Luxemburg’s exceptional critique of global political economy, The Accumulation of Capital is a video diptych that trawls through a haunting, dreamlike landscape straddling Warsaw, Berlin and Bombay/Mumbai to produce a riff on cities, capitalism and the 20th century’s turbulent history: part natural history, part detective journal, part forensic analysis, part cosmopolitan urban investigation, and part philosophical dialogue. The Capital of Accumulation offers a considered and personal reflection on the remaining possibilities for radical renewal in our times” (Raqs Media Collective). 50 min.
Sunday, June 22, 2014, 2:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Thursday, June 26, 2014, 7:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
From Gulf to Gulf to Gulf
2013. India. Directed by Shaina Anand and Ashok Sukumaran (CAMP). “A boat has many powers: to gather a society in its making, to distribute goods, to carry people and ideas across places that, it seems to us, are more different than ever before. From Gulf to Gulf to Gulfis a result of four years of dialogue, friendship and exchange between CAMP and a group of sailors from the Gulf of Kutch. Their travels and those of co-seafarers from Sindh, Baluchistan, and Southern Iran through the gulfs of Persia and Aden show us a world cut into many pieces, not easily bridged by nostalgics or nationalists. Instead, we follow the physical crossings made by these groups of people who make and sail wooden boats and who also make videos, sometimes with songs married to them” (CAMP). In Kutchi, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic; English subtitles. 83 min.
For this evening’s Modern Mondaysevent, Shuddhabrata Sengupta (Raqs Media Collective, New Delhi), Shaina Anand (CAMP, Mumbai) and Scottish moving image artist Duncan Campbell show clips and discuss their artist collectives and/or individual works, covering both material represented in the exhibition and other titles. Raqs Media Collective is known for a “transdisciplinary” methodology, in which artistic research, moving image, and installation collapse into one; Campbell revisits existing documentary material, into which he inserts fictionalized segments; and CAMP works collaboratively with their subjects and repurposes surveillance technologies such as telescopic lenses, CCTV, and leaked audio files from government phone taps. All three positions confront the ongoing debates behind documentary’s self-reflexivity, addressing the quintessential questions: “Who speaks and acts, from where, and for whom?” Their unique and at times radical positions within contemporary documentary practice involve complex discourses on representation and the production of reality.
Strikes at Time
2011. India. Directed by Raqs Media Collective. “Strikes at Time is a lucid dream, readings from an occasional anonymous journal, and a long walk at the edge of the city of the night. In that no man’s land annexed by the awakening mind from the fatigue of the labouring day, the work weaves together a disquisition on time in the form of a discreet annotation on the philosopher Jacques Rancière’s The Nights of Labour, together with renditions of the found text of a worker’s diary by the CyberMohalla Ensemble, a group of unorthodox proletarian urbanists that Raqs has been in dialogue with over a decade. The shadowy presence of a Yaksha and Yakshi—guardians of wealth in Indic mythologies—stands watching over the work, marking time with questions” (Raqs Media Collective). 18 min.
The Surface of Each Day Is a Different Planet
2009. India. Directed by Raqs Media Collective. “Reflecting upon the ways in which ethnicity and ‘type’ have been characterized, animated elements resemble scientific instruments, such as those once used to measure the human skull in an attempt to determine levels of intelligence or those used to extract biometric data from today’s passports. Photographs of institutionalized individuals by Francis Galton, a 19th-century anthropologist interested in the synthesis of human typologies, are layered into video footage capturing the movement of people from place to place. Intentionally open-ended and anti-documentary, the work examines how collectivity and anonymity have been represented over time and how, in the present, the conditions of post-colonialism and globalization contribute to an ongoing crisis of identity and entitlement” (Raqs Media Collective). 38 min.
Surveillance Works by CAMP
These works by CAMP are comprised of CCTV footage from 2008 and phone taps from 2009, respectively. In both videos, the source media is a result of surveillance systems: 206 cameras in Europe’s largest mall, and the government-tapped phone conversations of a lobbyist for large corporations in India. Capital Circus follows people through the camera network with match-cut continuity. Hum Logos uses montage to exacerbate questions of sound’s veracity, editing, and ‘splice.’
CCTV Social: Capital Circus
2014. India. Directed by CAMP. “The CCTV control room of the new Arndale Centre has full coverage of the mall’s thoroughfares. Manchester was the first industrial city in the world, the city where Engels wrote The Condition of the Working Class in England. The mall in this historic city-center was the site of an IRA bombing in 1996, the largest on U.K. soil, and its rebuilding (to create the largest mall in Europe) was the start of Manchester city’s regeneration program. A man walks through these now indoor ‘market’ streets, getting almost 100 members of the public to sign ‘image-release’ forms, which combines provisions from the U.K. Data Protection Act with the usual filming permissions. Through this we get access to the surveillance feeds from the mall’s camera network, and its methods of real-time videography, visible in Capital Circus” (CAMP). 20 min.
The Radia Tap(e)s: Act II, Hum Logos
2012. India. Directed by CAMP. When the Radia Tap(e)s, government-tapped phone conversations of a corporate lobbyist, leaked into the public domain in 2011 they underwent multiple ‘phase shifts,’ turning into TV sound-bites, proofs of scams, and lengthy online transcripts. Act I, Swearing-in Whispers, was a screenplay where some of these texts were regrouped in a courier 12-point, melodramatic format—the threat of a film. Act II, Hum Logos followed, beginning where the screenplay ended. Some ‘top journalists’ had claimed that they were just lying to Radia, ‘a source’ on the phone, and their conversations had no basis in and impact on reality, or that their conversations were spliced and cut-pasted, and thus not true. Here the tapes are even further edited. This montage paradoxically opens a window onto an even broader range of rhetorical devices: lies, cries, memes, schemes, pen drives, bad networks and family feuds, that pulses through the nervous system of Indian democracy” (CAMP) 45 min.
Photo courtesy of the organiser/s
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