Artist in Archive: History as muse - CONA
IFA Extending Arts Practice programme executive, Rashmi Sawhney will be present to answer questions and give information about the process of applying for grants to IFA.
Neha Choksi : Science and Art in Solar Archives
This brief presentation concerns the work in the archives necessary for this art project which stems from my interest in the psychohistory of human interactions with the sun in India and concerns fatal sunsets, awaited eclipses, and disturbances in solar weather. To that end archival research ranging from scientific solar records from pre-colonial and post-colonial times to literary and diaristic references to the sun and observed eclipses are of use to me.
Neha Choksi’s poetic oeuvre in sculpture, video, photography and performance presents a materially bound search for absenting often resulting in tragicomedy. She is a contributing editor for X-TRA, a quarterly arts journal, and works in Mumbai and Los Angeles.
In 1975, ISRO launched the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE). SITE was an experimental satellite communications project jointly designed by NASA and ISRO that made available informational programmes to rural India. One of the main objectives of the experiment was to produce programs that would help develop a scientific atmosphere in the country. Unlike films that have been preserved and archived for their entertainment value, or films that have been maintained for their artistic value, most educational, instructional films were created to serve particular, often fleeting, research, educational, or rhetorical purposes. When their pragmatic job was done, they were tossed into the dustbin of history. As a result, the vast majority of these films were not preserved in traditional archives, and records of their production, distribution, and exhibition were often seen as valueless and thus destroyed. I believe this collection of vintage educational films is a time capsule of vanished practices, places, and points of view. It tells as much about the society that produced them as the substantive content of the films themselves. They are untapped resources for cultural study and history. I propose to investigate the ISRO/SITE film archives, which represent an era characterized by faith in science, modernity, and progress. Through the images housed in these archives, we can glean ways of life that are engaged in an ongoing process of transformation and development – or even disappearance. Depicting the everyday life of villagers in rural India, these films reveal the tension between tradition and progress.
Shumona Goel was born in 1975. She is a Bombay based, experimental filmmaker. Shumona works with 16mm film, slide projections, and VHS to produce low budget, personal films and film installations.