PROJECT CINEMA CITY
A Majlis project
Concept and Text: Madhusree Dutta
Design and Graphics: Shilpa Gupta & Madhusree Dutta
9 x 6.5 inches
dates.sites presents a timeline of the city of Bombay/Mumbai in the 20th century, anchored to its most adoredpublic institution: cinema.
Why this timeline when it is now generally accepted that dates are rigid and memories porous – and that the latter needs to be prioritized over the former? How does one create a timeline that is neither cast in stone nor vulnerable to the charge of ‘manufacturing a past’? How does one evolve a timeline for a geographically defined entity in the context of its popular cultures that are defined by specific processes of production and distribution? These were some of the challenges that confronted the making of this volume. The volume is divided into sections by decades, and the decades in turn are separated by a series of calendars designed by artists, filmmakers and designers. The text is a stitching together of found information and received knowledge from formal/informal, acknowledged/discarded sources. It is layered with images from either the public domain or personal archives. The relationship between text and image, far from being umbilical, is playfully associative. Just as contemporary readings are incorporated with dated markers in the written text, in the image text too, contemporary works are inserted alongside period images –and these incorporations and insertions appear with detectable joint-marks, in order to snap the spell of ‘snippets from the past’. dates.sites thus becomes a deliberation on the contemporary with the aid of a speculated upon and collated past.
Madhusree Dutta, the curator of Project Cinema City, is a filmmaker and executive director of Majlis. She curated the cultural component at World Social Forum, 2004 and 2007, and has conceived and realized various courses on cultural literacy and art interfaces for both academic institutions and social movements. Her publications include The Nation, the State and Indian Identity (co-editor, 1996), and Sites and Practices: An Exercise in Cultural Pedagogy (editor, 2006).
Shilpa Gupta is a visual artist and lives in Mumbai. Her works are shown widely in leading international galleries and museums, and at art events. Shilpa creates artwork using interactive video, websites, objects, photographs, sound and public performances. She has also been engaged with various initiatives of art activism including Culture@World Social Forum and Aar Paar, a project of cultural exchange between artists of Pakistan and India.
Majlis(www.majlisbombay.org) is a centre for rights discourse and multi-disciplinary arts initiative based in Mumbai. It has two wings: a resource centre for legal rights and a production unit for arts. Since its inception in 1990, Majlis has spearheaded many campaigns against cultural terrorism and sectarian art practices. Majlis’ productions of films, plays and collaborative artworks are well acclaimed, and have received many national and international awards.