Galerie Marian Goodman is pleased to present a new exhibition of work by Amar Kanwar, the second with the artist at the Paris gallery. The show features his latest film Such a Morning, a modern parable about two people’s quiet engagement with truth. The work premiered at documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel in 2017 is showed here along with seven installations of letters composed of video and light projections on paper.
Searching for a way to re-comprehend the difficult times we are living in, Kanwar asks “What is it that lies beyond, when all arguments are done with? How to reconfigure and respond again?” Such a Morning unlocks a metaphysical response to our contemporary reality as it navigates multiple hallucinations between speech and silence, fear and freedom, democracy and fascism. In the 85-minute film, a famous mathematician at the peak of his career unexpectedly withdraws from his life and retreats to the wilderness to live in an abandoned train carriage. Creating a zone of darkness so as to acclimatize himself before total darkness descends, the professor begins to live in a realm bereft of light. Thus starts an epic sensory journey into a new plane of emotional resonance between the self and the surrounding world. A parallel story about a woman emerges within the course of the film, providing a compelling, analogous narrative to the protagonist’s. Over time, the professor records his epiphanies and hallucinations in an “almanac of the dark”, an examination of 49 types of darkness that emerge as a series of letters.
Based originally on Kanwar’s research into the diversity of existing narrative structures in the Indian subcontinent, Such a Morning reaches beyond place to expose the complexity of a fractious moment in history in which every truth seems to have an opposite brutal truth. As part of his film Kanwar conceived a narrative that continues beyond the film--the professor continues to write his letters--towards a research project with diverse artistic, pedagogic, metaphysical and political collaborations. These become the rubric for a continuing project, which are at the core of the series of Letters that accompany the film and are shown on the ground floor of the gallery. The seven Letters presented here contain texts, 17 video projections, 45 light projections. The handmade paper for the Letters was made by Sherna Dastur at the Nirupama Academy of Paper, Kolkatta, India.
The train coach built for the film remains in Delhi, a memorial for the teacher who refused to conform, who stepped off the tracks and wandered into the wild. Such a Morning was edited by Sameera Jain, with cinematography by Dilip Varma and additional cinematography by Ranjan Palit. Sound recording was done by Suresh Rajamani and Julius Basaiawmoi and design by Sherna Dastur. Such a Morning (2017) is produced with the support of the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, and Marian Goodman Gallery.
Amar Kanwar (born in New Delhi in 1964) is an artist and filmmaker, awarded the Prince Claus Award, the Netherlands, in 2017, for groundbreaking work in the field of culture and development: For his profoundly disturbing, beautiful and moving works that operate at the interface between art, documentation and activism; for his critical and contemplative investigation of the oppression and people’s courageous resistance against it; for giving voice to the victims of social injustice, looking deeply into the multi-layered causes and effects of problems, and recording evidence of our times; for his innovative use of hybrid art forms in a unique method of storytelling that gives viewers a potent personal experience and overcomes educational and cultural boundaries; for combining poetic sensibility and political consciousness to increase the reach and impact of documentary filmmaking; and for expanding the possibilities of art as a means of obtaining social justice and inspiring new generations of artists to think deeply about the social impact of their work.”
His work has been exhibited in many international museums and institutions. This past year, in 2018, solo presentations of Kanwar’s work were see at the Luma Foundation, Arles, France; The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota, US; The Tate Modern, London; Bildmuseet, Umea, Sweden and at Photo Kathmandu, Nepal. Other recent solo exhibitions have been at the Max Muller Bhavan, Mumbai, India (2015-16), FRAC Pays de la Loire, Carquefou, France (2016), The Assam State Museum, India (2015), the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, US (2013), Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, United Kingdom (2013), Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, Austria (2013), the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich (2012), the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2008), and the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2007). Kanwar has participated in Documenta 14, 13,12, and 11 (2017, 2013, 2007, 2002).
Amar Kanwar has been the recipient of numerous awards such as the Leonore Anneberg Prize for Art Social Change (2014), an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts, Maine College of Art (USA, 2006), the Edvard Munch Award for Contemporary Art (Norway, 2005) and the MacArthur Fellowship (India, 2000). Several of his films have been also screened in film festival such the 5th International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, India (2012), the 13th Madurai International Documentary and Short Film Festival, India (2011), the Documentary Dream Show, Tokyo (2010), the Parallel Perspectives Film Festival, Hyderabad (2008), the 9th International Short Film Festival, Bangladesh (2005). Amar Kanwar lives and works in New Delhi.