A screening of Amar Kanwar's documentaries and a talk by the filmmaker introduced the city to his works

Documentary film maker Amar Kanwar was in Bangalore to deliver a talk on his work. Titled ‘The Little Museum', Kanwar's talk was a ramble through his life's corpus of work.

Rich in metaphors, his talk touched upon all the significant films that he has made so far. Kanwar is one of the few documentary filmmakers who started out making films in the Nineties but is also equally well known as an artist now. Kanwar's talk is part of the CoLab-Goethe Lecture series held at the Goethe Institute.

Kanwar's work has been exhibited at the prestigious contemporary and modern art exhibition documenta 11” (2002) and “documenta 12 (2007). His films include “A Season Outside,” which takes as its starting point the choreographed military dances at Wagah, “The Many Faces of Madness” about environmental and human rights abuses across India, “A Night of Prophecy” which is weaved through poetry and “The Lightning Testimonies,” about sexual violence against women. Two of his short films about Burma were screened at the event.

Suresh Jairam of 1, Shanthi Road, said: “Amar Kanwar was trying to be both poetic and political in his talk. This talk was a sampler for the beginner. Kanwar's work has been very political in its context and is also very cutting edge. Trying to work in the periphery of the art world, there is no other film maker like him. I admire him for his persistence and his ability to stay afloat in spite of the vagaries of the market. He is a remarkable individual and his film ‘The Face' (which was screened) manages to make the Burmese laugh. His presentation opened up a small window to a larger body of art.”

Another artist, Abhishek Hazra who was present at the venue said: “He is a very important artist and filmmaker. Apart from his continuous oscillation between lucidity and complexity, for me the most important thing about his films are that they are always engaging – even if there are parts you don't necessarily agree with. His talk recreated some of the experience of watching his films and he actively referenced fragments from his own filmic oeuvre. It is good to know that Kanwar's work is recognised at prominent contexts because his work is demanding — you have to spend time with it and it resists quick formulations.”

Sushma Veerappa, who describes herself as a documentart maker and is familiar with Kanwar's works was impressed with the talk. “His talk was like his work — there's always a quiet disquiet in the way he uses his words and images, which is both unsettling and inspiring. But in the end there is some kind of poetic justice that he renders to the issue that he attempts to understand. Is it the rigour of the artist or the documentary maker?”