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Arnolfini - est 1961


Shambhavi Kaul – Scene 32 (5 minutes, video 2009)

Charles and Ray Eames – Textiles and Ornamental Arts of India (11 minutes, 16 mm, 1955)

Larry Gottheim – The Red Thread (17 minutes, 16 mm, 1987)

Shambhavi Kaul – 21 Chitrakoot (9 minutes, video 2012)

Mark Lapore – The Glass System (20 minutes, 16 mm 2000)

Shambhavi Kaul – A Place for Landing (6 minutes, video, 2010)


This programme of films begins with the pairing of Shambhavi Kaul’s Scene 32 (2009) with Charles and Ray Eames’s Textiles and Ornamental Arts of India (1955). The two works firmly locate the programme as having an explicit relation to India. In Scene 32 Kaul films the salt flats of Central Kutch in western India, while the Eames provide a record of the 1955 exhibition of textiles and ornaments that was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The landscape of the subcontinent, as well as a host of material objects gathered from the various cultures it houses is observed. The solidity and texture of ground, the physicalness and presence of the articles, all emphatically presented are slowly undone as the programme continues. Larry Gottheim’s The Red Thread (1987) shot in San Francsico and Northern California, based on a Hindu legend, connects the spinning of thread and the weaving of fabric with the patterning of a film, taking the association further into personal and mythic dimensions. Concurrently, Kaul calls up the mythic in 21 Chitrakoot (2012), piecing together mostly landscape images from a popular 1980s Indian mythological TV show. This collection of Chroma Key backdrops is transportive, crafting a journey to fake other, exotic, utopic lands all the while acknowledging the technological artifice used to engender these voyages. The sense of disjunction and dislocation generated is extended by Mark Lapore’s The Glass System (2000), which shuttles between Calcutta and New York, the move between the two places not seeming incongruent. Shifting apprehensions are further confounded by a final jaunt to the moon in Kaul’s A Place for Landing (2010), whose soundtrack appears to be apparently composed of electronic string sounds, but is in actuality almost entirely reappropriated and reedited from Wahan Ke Log -an obscure Bollywood sci-fi, the title of which translates as ‘Aliens’ or ‘Other People’.

Things are left unsure.


Shanay Jhaveri is a writer and curator, living in London. He is the editor of Outsider Films on India: 1950-1990.