Art from a projector

Sep 26, 2013, 07:26 IST | Kanika Sharma

Catch Madhuban Mitra and Manas Bhattacharya's exciting artworks that challenge the norms of cinema and photography

When photography was invented, art had been displaced by reality and truth. Yet Madhuban Mitra and Manas Bhattacharya have turned the medium inside out by showcasing an exciting range of works named Palimpsest.The title implies superimposition of a work on an existing work.This exciting technique challenges the viewer to analyse two sets of meanings together.

The friction between light and darkness is captured in the negative imagery of the artworks comprising the Palimpsest

Kolkata-based artists and recipients of the Breakthrough ArtistAward for their previous work, a Through a Lens, Darkly; speak of how the exhibition was specially commissioned by the Mumbai Art Room, a platform for artistic and curatorial practice. “

We wanted to create an immersive environment considering the somewhat intimate nature of the Mumbai Art Room space. Therefore, we conceived two works that play with light and darkness -- something fundamental to both photography and cinema.

The gallery was also converted into a temporary movie theatre -- a sort of fairground cinema or tent of attractions in the middle of the bustling Colaba neighbourhood -- with a Spoken English class next door, where you could go in and lose yourself in a ‘train of shadows’,” shares the duo in an email interview.

The two works that the dyad juxtaposes by an overlay are Behaviour of Walls at 22.56ºN, 88.36ºE and Bildungsroman, Chapter I. “The first is a set of ageing, battered, 35 mm negatives we found among the garbage in the National Instruments factory during our six-month shoot in 2009.

The workers left behind the negatives, and they are a record of their everyday lives as well as tests to assess the capabilities of the National 35mm camera they were building at the factory. The second set is a series of photographs that we had shot digitally, of a particular expanse of wall in the factory. These are then layered and collaged to create a new set of composite images which were then stitched and animated to form the video,” says the duo.

What makes the viewer spellbound is the haunting evocativeness that the artworks inhabit. “The digital has no negative, and many people today, especially younger people, have almost forgotten what a negative looks like. There is a degree of opacity in a negative image, which makes it denser, more mysterious, and even abstract. The attempt is to push the viewer to invert the negative in his/her head in order to see the ‘positive’ ”, signs off the upcoming artists.

Till: September 28, 11 am to 7 pm
At: Mumbai Art Room, Pipewala Building, Colaba.  

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