Medha Kapur of Saffronart reflects on Amar Kanwar’s video works on view at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland
Zurich: Amar Kanwar born in New Delhi in 1964 is an independent Indian documentary filmmaker whose lyrical and meditative work explores the political, social, economic and ecological conditions of the Indian subcontinent. Having directed and produced over 40 films, which are a mixture of documentary, poetic travelogue and visual essay, much of Kanwar’s work traces the legacy of decolonisation and the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. Recurrent themes are the splitting of families, the abuse and rape of women, and the struggle for democracy, as well as the opposition between globalization and tribal consciousness in rural India.
His breakthrough came with Earth as Witness, which he made in 1994 for the Tibetan government in exile. For the first time, he had more control over the film and was able to try out new narrative techniques. This was followed by the films for which he is best known, such as his trilogy, A Season Outside (1997), A Night of Prophecy (2002) and To Remember (2003), as well as King of Dreams (2001), Hennigsvaer (2006), the nineteen-part video installation The Torn First Pages (2004-2008), the eight-part installation The Lightning Testimonies (2007), A Love Story (2010), and the new film he is presenting this summer at the Documenta 13, The Sovereign Forest ( 2012).
In 2012 Amar Kanwar participated in Documenta for the third consecutive year. The exhibition at Fotomuseum Winterthur presents his major video works, installed through seven rooms: Trilogy, 1997-2003 (A Season Outside, A Night of Prophecy und To Remember); The Torn First Pages, 2004-2008; Henningsvaer, 2006; The Lightning Testimonies, 2007; A Love Story, 2010. The exhibition is curated by Urs Stahel.