by Ansuman Biswas
Season, a four-screen video installation, grew out of Ansuman Biswas’ exploration of the South West Film and Television Archive and his interest in the visionary poet Rabindranath Tag ore.
It was developed in a residency at Dartington during which Biswas was exploring the multiple paths connecting Bengal and Devon. Tagore had clearly recognised the mutual indebtedness of the poet and the peasant. His appreciation of the roots of culture in agriculture had led to the founding of Santiniketan in Bengal and Dartington Hall in Devon, where soil and soul where equally tended and where education, creativity and industry were consciously tied to rural rhythms. In the midst of this study came the death of Biswas' grandmother in Calcutta.
Season is structured as a set of balanced dualities. The four screens portray birth, death, music and dance. They also show images of East and West, of present and past, of science and superstition, of bodily labour and the industrious machine, of saturated colour and grainy black and white, and of earth, air, fire and water. Aural and visual echoes reverberate and reflect between these opposites, and holding them all together are the recurrent motifs of food and work.
Colourful scenes from a Hindu funeral, during which members of the Biswas family engage in ritualised food preparation and feasting, are juxtaposed with grainy archive footage from Devon of sweet factories and cheese making. Workers of the world unite as rice threshers in Biswas' ancestral village provide a rhythmic soundtrack for a silent film showing silage makers in pre-war Devon, whose drudgery gradually transforms into an ecstatic country dance. The drunken folk songs of Devon Scrumpy makers mingle with the Sanskrit chants of Brahmins pouring ghee on a sacred fire. The complex, ceremonial actions around the dead body of Biswas' grandmother mirror the elaborate costumes and paraphernalia of a birth in 1970s Watford.
|Colour / B&W||Colour|
Commissioned by Picture This, Dartington Arts and The South West Film and Television Archive. Funded by South West Screen.
03 June - 25 June 2006
A Bond, Bristol, UK
18 February – 01 April 2006
Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham, UK
26 November 2005 – 08 January 2006
Chapter, Cardiff, UK
Ghosting developed in response to the growth of contemporary artists’ interest in archives.
While working in a number of conventional genres within visual art, music, and theatre, Ansuman Biswas is particularly interested in