Edited by Madhusree Dutta, Kaushik Bhaumik, Rohan Shivkumar
11 x 9.25 inches
Project Cinema City is an anthology of text and image essays, documentation transcripts, maps, graphics, annotated artworks and films on various configurations of the cinema and the city of Bombay/Mumbai. This volume has evolved out of and is the culmination, in a sense, of Project Cinema City: Research Art and Documentary Practices – an expansive project initiated by Majlis, a centre for multi-disciplinary art initiatives in Mumbai, and developed over five years, from 2008 to 2012.
Project Cinema City is primarily a set of enquiries into the labour, imagination, desire, access, spaces, locations, iconization, materiality, languages, moving peoples, viewing conventions and hidden processes that inform the cinemas the city makes, and also the cities its cinema produces. The enquiries are based on the hypothesis that cinema in the terrain of cinema city is as much everyday practice as it is a part of a speculative desirescape. Hence this volume presents cinema as a manufacturing enterprise that alters through shifts in materials, technologies, labour inflow, distribution territories, demographic patterns and development policies, and the city as a phenomenon that continuously evolves through the interface between lived reality and the reality perceived in cinema.
The main aim of this volume is to convey the richness of documentation made through the parent project – a richness that, hopefully, will also convey to the reader the scale and diversity, and the crisis and creativity of the relationship between cinema and city in Bombay. In its free mixing of images, graphics, field notes, information and commentary, the book, quite like the parent project, maintains a work-in-progress status. This temperamentality, we would like to believe, mirrors the vacillating characteristics of the medium of mass imaginations: cinema.
The book is divided into three sections. The first, Mapping Imaginations: Terrains, Locations, deals with the spatiality, materiality and habitability of the cinema city. The basic argument put forth by the essays included here is that cinema is essentially a spatial system that functions through an entanglement of forms of production and representation of/in cinema. This section addresses the spatial system of cinema as it is incorporated within the broader genres of urbanity, modernity, vocationality and desirability of the city.
The second section, Performing Labour: Bodies, Network, is about the act of producing and the labour that produces – skill, work, character, aspiration, dissent, transgression, duplication, ancillaries – and the myriad ways in which they populate the cinema city. With the death of manufacturing industries in Bombay, the service and entertainment sectors have become the mainstay of aspiration-induced migration to the city. This section deals with the organized and unorganized accumulation of labour, performing bodies, and aspirational talent at the altar of cinema.
The third section, titled Viewing Limits: Narratives, Technologies, deals with the multiple niches and varied strategies through which cinema is arranged and rearranged in the everyday life of the city and its citizens. Every alteration in genre, narrative, technology, economy, infrastructure, etc., influences the way cinema multiplies its effect on the lived realities of the city and its citizens. While some of these effects are physically related to the cinema, others are remote and merely provisional.
The contributors to the book include filmmakers, visual artists, designers, architects, photographers, historians and other social scientists.