Our talks and presentations, so farPosted: 2014/01/24
TLDR: We did, as planned, three presentations (in Bangalore, Baroda, Jodhphur), all of them very different one from each other, cooperated with one independent art space and two universities – and hope to find an opportunity in Mumbai next week.
After all, we haven’t come to India for holiday, but for work.
Deborah brought along three reels with five 16mm films and a couple of slide collages, and I worked out a talk about the history of 16 mm film in general, in India, its usage in art and Deborah’s analogue approach.
In Bangalore, we were able to give the presentation as planned at 1 Shanthi Road Studio Gallery: a 16 mm projector was available thanks to Shai Heredia from Experimenta Film Festival and Shreyasi, the projectionist, and a slide projector showed up, too. For my talk, no special equipment was necessary – netbook and voice did the job.
Gallery space ready for presentation
Some 25 people came to the event in the early evening on Jan 7. Among them many artists, students, and – as a big surprise and great pleasure – Mr. Georgekutty of the Voices from the Waters film festival. Everything went fine, and we experienced our first presentation with an audience interested in experimental projected art not to be much different from any presentation in a similar context back home. However, Q&A and discussions were not a too big issue that evening. Special feature: Deborah’s silent Herman(n) film on Neukoelln’s Hermannstraße, to which the ever present noise of Bangalore traffic blended in as if the original soundtrack.
In Baroda, at MS University Fine Arts, the setting was different. A 16 mm projector was not available (or rather: was available, but one part missing), so Deborah accepted to show one of her films in a digital version. Normally, she would not allow this to be done, but as she had spent five months in the city and cooperated with the university in 1996/97, shooting “Santoor” – so that film just had to be shown there. A slide projector was available, too, thus at least her delicate transparent collages could be shown in their original format.
Technical set up, analogue and digital
In Bangalore, people were able to see the films as pieces of original art – not much to explain in technical terms. In Baroda, on the contrary, the digital screening required much explanation. Deborah talked a lot about why it is often so difficult to digitize analogue experimental artists’ films: because of the smaller colour range in the digital, resulting in a loss of colour depth and textures, and things often going worse when beamed. However, this setting turned out to be very helpful for her promoting her “analogue jihad” (see my talk to learn more about that).
The room at MSU filling up with students
The digital screening, in addition to the audience consisting of more than 40 art students, gave the event quite a different focus. It turned out to be less of a presentation or screening, but more a very vivid performance by Deborah. A big deal in the intense discussion part was explaining to the students that the films, as well as the slide collages, were fully produced in analogue, no computers involved. Eventually they got it, and we had the impression that some of them were even interested in giving this seemingly deprecated technique a try, sooner or later.
Finally, the Jodhpur presentation was really special. When we arrived in that city, we had no contact, no appointment, no idea. We searched the internet and found a private university with a fine arts department. We did’t hesitate – and took a rickshaw to the university’s new campus, a few kilometres away from the city centre – more or less in the desert.
Behind the fine arts department building
We were lucky to find Dr. Renu Sharma, head of Fine Arts, at her desk. And got the chance to talk to her about our presentation. During the conversation it turned out that the students there – mainly young women – had “collage” on the curriculum. So we agreed to give a presentation focussing on Deborah’s slide collages.
The presence of one student, Monica, an ayurvedic doctor in her forties, who took to studying art some two years ago, was very helpful, especially for translating the conversation between English and Hindi. (She even invited us to her home, where we also met her husband, son and daughter, and spent a very entertaining and interesting afternoon and dinner in ever so friendly company.)
Before giving the presentation, we all went to the Instrumentation Centre, where a slide projector was available. Another very special situation …
Slide projector setup
I had worked over my talk, leaving out all the 16 mm stuff, and focusing on the last passage on Deborah’s way of working analogue with transparent media, in order to give the students a chance to get at least some idea what they were confronted with.
The audience, later there were even more students attending
And there we went.We had some 20 girls in the first session, after which we learned that there should be a second one, as one teacher and a couple of students were coming from the old campus to profit from the opportunity, too. Of course, we agreed and started over again.
Dr. Renu Sharma, Head of Fine Arts, introducing our presentation
We had the impression, that our presentation was very inspiring to the girls. They were ever so happy to have the opportunity to get in touch with artists from abroad and enlarge their knowledge and understanding of art and being an artist. (While, it needs to be said, fine arts at that -paying- universitiy is rather about learning how to draw, paint or apply other techniques, and less about art as we generally think of it.)
Now, about to leave Jodhpur for chilly Jaipur tomorrow, we are curious if we can sort out “something” there or if we will have a chance in Mumbai, where we might be moving to in the beginning of next week.
Stay tuned :)