Friday, Nov 18, 2022
An Evening of Films by Suneil Sanzgiri
OFFsite: Strosacker Auditorium at Case Western Reserve University
Presented in partnership with FRONT International and CWRU Film Society
Golden Jubilee, 2021. Film Still. Courtesy the artist
Suneil Sanzgiri will screen three of his films, At Home but Not at Home (2019); Letter from Your Far-off Country (2020); and Golden Jubilee (2021), followed by a conversation between Sanzgiri and artist Renée Green, the curator of Contact, currently on display at moCa Cleveland.
At Home But Not At Home, 2019
16mm film & HD video
In 1961, 14 years after India gained independence from Britain, the Indian Armed Forces defeated the last remaining Portuguese colonizers in the newly formed state of Goa. My father was 18 at the time, and had just moved away from his small village of Curchorem to Bombay for school when news reached him about his home—now free from the oppression of a foreign hand after 450 years of colonial rule. After spending years thinking about questions of identity, liberation, and the movement of people across space and time, I find myself returning to this period in search of moments of anti-colonial solidarity across continents. My research took me from the shores of Goa, to Indonesia, Mozambique, and Angola, finding brief links between nascent liberation movements and my father’s biography.
Combining 16mm footage with drone videography, montages from the "Parallel cinema" movement in India, desktop screengrabs, and Skype interviews with my father, the resulting film utilizes various methods and modes of seeing at a distance to question the construction of artifice, memory, and identity through the moving image.
Letter from your Far-Off Country, 2020
16mm transfer to 2k video
Shot with 16mm film stock that expired in 2002—the same year as the state-sponsored anti-Muslim genocide in Gujarat—and filmed amid the anti-CAA protests in Delhi, the filmmaker traces lines and lineages of ancestral memory, poetry, history, songs, and ruins from his birth in 1989.
A search for solidarity in the sounds and colors of the spontaneous Muslim women led Shaheen Bagh movement in Delhi, in the poetry of Agha Shahid Ali, the song of Iqbal Bano, the theater of Safdar Hashmi, and images of B. R. Ambedkar—the radical anti-caste Dalit intellectual and founder of the Indian constitution—all surrounding a letter addressed to the filmmaker’s distant relative Prabhakar Sanzgiri, who wrote biographies of Ambedkar and was a Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader in Maharashtra.
Letter From Your Far-off Country is the second film a series of new works addressing ancestral memory, diaspora, history, decoloniality, and cross-continental solidarity. These themes, which run recurrent, think through a series of questions, reflections, and intimations of how we live through moments of trauma, violence, and revolt.
Starting with At Home But Not At Home (2019), Letter From Your Far-off Country continues interviews with the filmmaker's father, while blurring boundaries of the epistolary format through a letter written by the filmmaker directed towards a distant relative, who was a revolutionary freedom fighter, prisoner's rights activist, and Communist party leader.
Using the language of new media, video art, desktop cinema, and experimental film, these shorts look towards the slippery, unstable, and liberatory possibilities of the moving image, seeking to reclaim the past from erasure, and provide a journey towards a potential future.
Golden Jubilee, 2021
16mm film, 4k video, and digital animation
What is liberation when so much has already been taken? Who has come for more? Golden Jubilee, the third film this series about memory, diaspora and decoloniality, takes as its starting point scenes of the filmmaker’s father navigating a virtual rendering of their ancestral home in Goa, India, created using the same technologies of surveillance that mining companies use to map locations for iron ore in the region. A tool for extraction and exploitation becomes a method for preservation. The father, sparked by a memory of an encounter as a child, inhabits the voice of a spirit known locally as Devchar, whose task is to protect the workers, farmers, and the once communal lands of Goa. Protection from what the filmmaker asks? Sanzgiri’s signature blend of 16mm sequences, 3D renders, direct animation, and desktop aesthetics are vividly employed in this lush, and ghostly look at questions of heritage, culture, and the remnants of history.
About the artists
Suneil Sanzgiri is an artist, researcher, and filmmaker. His work spans experimental video and film, animations, essays, and installations, and contends with questions of identity, heritage, culture and diaspora in relation to structural violence. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a Masters of Science in Art, Culture and Technology in 2017.
Sanzgiri’s work has been screened extensively at festivals and venues around the world including International Film Festival Rotterdam, New York Film Festival, Hong Kong International Film Fest, True/False Film Festival, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Doc Lisboa, Viennale, e-Flux, REDCAT, the Menil Collection, the Block Museum, Le Cinéma Club, and the Criterion Collection, and has won awards at BlackStar Film Fest, Open City Docs Fest, VideoEx, and more. Residencies and fellowships include SOMA, MacDowell, Pioneer Works, Flaherty NYC, and Sentient Art Film's inaugural Line of Sight fellowship. His work has been supported by grants from Creative Capital, the Jerome Foundation, NYSCA, Field of Vision, and the Foundation for Contemporary Art. He was named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in Filmmaker Magazine’s Fall 2021 Issue, and in Art in America's "New Talent" issue in 2022.
Sanzgiri is currently working on his first feature-length work, focusing on the bonds of solidarity between India and Africa that developed out of resistance to the Portuguese empire.
Renée Green is an artist, writer, and filmmaker known for her highly layered and formally complex multimedia installations in which ideas, perception, and experience are examined from myriad perspectives. Via films, essays and writings, installations, digital media, architecture, sound-related works, film series and events her work engages with investigations into circuits of relation and exchange over time, the gaps and shifts in what survives in public and private memories as well as what has been imagined and invented.
Green’s exhibitions, videos and films have been seen throughout the world in museums and art institutions, among them KW Institute for Contemporary Art and daadgalerie, Berlin; Carpenter Center for the Visual at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass; MAK Center for Art + Architecture at the Schindler House, West Hollywood; the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Ar and the New Museum, all in New York; Musée cantonal des Beaux Arts, Lausanne; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, an Francisco; the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich; Jeu de Plume, Paris; Porticos, Frankfurt; Centro Cultural de Bélem, Lisbon; Fundació Antoini Tápies, Barcelona; Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; Vienna Secession; Stichting de Appel, Amsterdam; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Her work has also been present at the Whitney Biennial (1193, 2022), and the Venice (1993), Johannesburg (1997), Kwangju (1997), Berlin (2001), Sevilla (2006) and Istanbul (2007) Biennials, as well as in Documents 11 (2002) and Manifesta 7 (2008).
Renée Green’s exhibition Contact is presented in partnership with FRONT International 2022’s second iteration, Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Generous support provided by Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP. Additional support provided by Michelle Shan Jeschelnig and Richard Jeschelnig, and the Anselm Talalay Photography Endowment.