ASA12: Arts and aesthetics in a globalising world

Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India, 3rd-6th April 2012

(Plen2)

Plenary 2

Location Convention Centre Auditorium I
Date and Start Time 05 April, 2012 at 11:00

Convenors

None listed.

Short Abstract

The second plenary.

Long Abstract

The second plenary.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

"Gandhi, Camera, Action! Anna Hazare and the 'media fold' in twenty-first century India"

Author: Christopher Pinney (University College, London)  email

Short Abstract

The paper explores the visual image of the contemporary Indian anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare as a “second Gandhi’. This idiom of iteration powerfully demonstrates the continuing vitality of figures associated with anti-colonial nationalism, not simply as empty points of visual reference but as forces that continue to animate the political landscape and the repertoire of political possibilities in India. The idea of the ‘media-fold’ attempts to explicate the layering and bricolage which characterizes much popular Indian visual culture and whose logic seems to demand that the future is always half-seen-in-advance

Long Abstract

The paper explores the visual image of the contemporary Indian anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare as a "second Gandhi' or a "Krishna for today". Hazare assumed media centre-stage in August 2011 during his fast at the Ramlila Maidan in Delhi. The highly visible idiom of iterability deployed by his supporters powerfully demonstrates the continuing vitality of figures associated with anti-colonial nationalism, not simply as empty points of visual reference but as forces that continue to animate the political landscape and the repertoire of political possibilities in India. Alongside debates about a Citizen's Ombudsman, the Right to Information Act and the desirability of the Unique Identification Number database, the Mahabharata is mixed with Bombay commercial cinema's imagination of the freedom struggle through films such as Lage Raho Munna Bhai . In a parallel manner the agitation also performed a script already partly written by Rang de Basanti (the film which perhaps more than any other spectacularly negotiates the role of the archive in the popular). The Indian political "archive" is highly dynamic, an unstable and recursive location which has certain authorizing functions but which in the absence of systematic sedimentation, renders images "live" and ready to fall into the future. The idea of the 'media-fold' attempts to explicate the layering and "hot" bricolage which characterizes much popular Indian visual culture and politics and whose logic seems to demand that the future is always half-seen-in-advance through the prophetic voice of media.

Retro Bombay in contemporary cinema

Author: Ranjani Mazumdar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper looks at a series of recent films where Bombay has been re-created as a retro city. Through an engagement with these urban ‘sets’ created by production and costume designers, the paper will explore the cultural, material and historical transactions involved in the designing of India’s best known city before the advent of globalization.

Long Abstract

Indian cities in the last two decades have witnessed a rise in innovative architectural designs, new forms of infrastructure and the ubiquitous presence of technological gadgets. The intoxicating sensorium generated by urban renewal, the sound of the cell phone, shop signage, and the power of light, is making the ruins of the old industrial city slowly fade away. It is this juncture that has triggered off a cinematic re-visiting of Bombay’s pre-globalized urban form. Mani Ratnam’s Guru (2007), Milan Luthria’s Once Upon a Time in Mumbai (2010), Chandan Arora’s Striker (2010), and Mahesh Manjrekar's City of Gold (2010) are examples of films that have created vivid images of Bombay before the advent of globalization. These 21st century films located at different moments of the last sixty years use sets that are devoid of the signs of the present. These urban 'sets' created by production and costume designers are either constructed in studios or generated through a transformation of real locations, to adapt to the time of the films. Production designers work with a material memory of the past – magazines, films, photographs, memoirs, paintings, architectural manuals, and music. There is a fascination with obsolete technology, older forms of home decor, and fashion. The retro past is always a recent past that has just passed us by. This paper engages with the material, cultural and historical transactions involved in the recreation of India’s best known city before the entry of globalization.

The paradox of international laws on protecting and preserving heritage

Author: Naman Ahuja (Jawaharlal Nehru University)  email

Short Abstract

There is much debate in different quarters of governments, museums, art-dealers and academia on rethinking the laws that govern the circulation of art. This paper outlines the larger social and aesthetic implications of the present laws.

Long Abstract

The discourse on 'art and aesthetics in a globalising world' rests on the premise of movement, or rather, circulation of people, art and ideas. Paradoxically, even in the twenty-first century, the laws that govern such movement are informed by colonialism and early twentieth century nationalism. Heritage is, by law, which is defined by the antiquities found in / on a nation's land, even as the people that live on that land may be refugees, diasporas. The laws create a divide where they seek to preserve and protect what is deemed as 'national' heritage while contemporary and modern art is not governed by these laws. The subject matter of globalisation thus gets increasingly implicated in the contemporary (as that is source material that circulates) widening a gulf with pre-modern history which, the [de-terrorialised] global refugee is to seek 'elsewhere', in some other nation. It widens also the gulf with history and tradition which seem to factor uncomfortably in the discourse on the modern and contemporary. Is it time then to revisit these laws in a globalised world?

Beyond denial - the ethnographic film-maker as author

Author: Paul Henley (University of Manchester)  email

Short Abstract

In the history of ethnographic film, there has been an enduring tendency to deny authorship, though for a broad variety of reasons. This presentation will trace this history before discussing the modes of authorship appropriate to contemporary ethnographic film-making practice.

Long Abstract

The role of authorship in any form of documentary film-making is generally problematic, but it has been particularly so in the history of ethnographic film-making. For, on the one hand, documentary film-making is associated with a rhetoric of truth and objectivity, of presenting the world as it really is. But on the other hand, as every practitioner is aware, a documentary film is never simply a mirror held up to nature - at every step of the process of producing a film, acts of authorship are involved.

Confronted with this conflict between rhetoric and practice, there has been a tendency in ethnographic film-making to attempt to deny, side-step or minimize authorship, though both the reasons and the suggested means for doing so have varied considerably over the century or so since ethnographers first started to use moving-image technology in the 1890s.

This presentation will first trace this history of denial before turning to consider the modes of authorship that are most appropriate to ethnographic film-making at the beginning of the 21st century. It will be proposed that although contemporary ethnographic film-makers cannot deny their authorship, they should nevertheless be self-denying.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.