Being Singular Plural
Curator Sandhini Poddar on her exhibition project for the Deutsche Guggenheim
"Being Singular Plural" unites a group of emerging and established artists and filmmakers who represent some of the most innovative and cogent voices in the field of contemporary Indian art today.
||Developed as a site-specific exhibition in intimate relation with the architecture of the Deutsche Guggenheim galleries, Being Singular Plural offers viewers an opportunity to further understand the ontology of the moving image. Desire Machine Collective (Sonal Jain and Mriganka Madhukaillya), Shumona Goel and Shai Heredia, Amar Kanwar, and Kabir Mohanty all adopt and adapt film and video in specific ways, generating counternarratives and histories that are at once personal and prescient, poetic and political.
Philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy’s idea of "being singular plural," in which the individual is always understood within a social framework, provides the structural scaffolding for the exhibition. Recognizing the complex character of the "first-person plural" and the interconnectedness of all beings, the selected films and videos invite the viewer to study, reassess, and challenge conventional categories such as fact and fiction, art and cinema, and objectivity and subjectivity. By manipulating sound, image, and text in experimental ways, the artists shift viewers’ positions from those of passive spectatorship to ones of active participation—to places where the "we" of "being together" is in the immediate here and now.
Each of the films and videos presented in Being Singular Plural formulates a new kind of viewership in which the ephemeral and the minute are of central importance. Discussing the nature and particularity of film, Nancy states:
"Other arts can present evidence of a truth, of a presence, in brief, of a "thing in itself." . . . Cinema too takes up this gesture, this presentation. But what it adds as that which is its own . . . is the linking, the indefinite sliding along of its presentation. Where does it slide to indefinitely? In a certain way, toward insignificance. . . . Toward the insignificance of life that offers itself these images, always in movement, going toward no mystery, no revelation, only this sliding along by means of which it leads itself from one image to another (exemplary, subliminal, banal, grotesque or naive, tampered with, sketchy or overloaded). Life that invents its own cinema."(1)
Nancy’s correlation of life with the moving image is crucial for the works in Being Singular Plural. As with life, the moving image is distinguished by flux and temporality, an endless process of "sliding along." This seemingly futile movement of images in film and video is perhaps the strongest testimony of the present—both on and off the screen.
(1) Jean-Luc Nancy, "And Life Goes On: Life and Nothing More," trans. Verena Andermatt Conley, in "L’évidence du film/The Evidence of Film", trans. Christine Irizarry and Conley (Brussels: Yves Gevaert, 2001), p. 78.
Being Singular Plural
Moving Images from India
June 26- October 10, 2010
Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin