Put all the images in language in a place of safety and make use of them, for they are in the desert, and it’s in the desert we must go and look for them.
Jean Genet, Prisoner of Love
In Melik Ohanian’s work titled Invisible Film (2005), the artist projects a preexisting film into the air of a desert. Peter Watkin’s 1971 psycho-drama-cum-pseudo-documentary, Punishment Park is screened without a screen, back onto the landscape – of El Mirage, the dry lake bed in the Mojave Desert, California – where it was originally shot. The 35mm film projector can be seen emanating a beam of light onto the sunset; the beam is absorbed infinitely and into the night. The object of cinema becomes the subject of the work. The soundtrack of Watkins’ film – one that was highly controversial in the United States and censored for over 25 years – can still be heard.
In the second work on view, Ohanian’s A Territory of No Event - comment (2007), an image of a place is presented, again and again, alongside a litany of legends that have come to define it. The image is of a desert patch, of something that might be called nothing. Close to the Mapimi Basin in Mexico, the place known as la Zona del Silencio (or the zone of silence) grew popular in 1970, when a missile launched from a U.S. military base lost control and landed there. It is said that radio signals don’t always operate there; sound broadcasting devices tend to malfunction. There is interference from the atmosphere such that the reality of what is being transmitted itself disappears.
In the words of Ghouse, “The exhibition invites its audience to think about the hegemony of vision and the privilege of sight by suggesting a specific set of relations to the notion of sound – to the appearance of sound, as in the case of Invisible Film, where the image, though materially present, cannot be seen; and to the disappearance of sound, as with A Territory of No Event… an invocation to the imagination, for there is somewhere out there on the surface of this earth, a magnetic force field that is such that nothing can be recorded."
The exhibition will remain on view through November 23, 2012.
Mumbai Art Room
Fourth Pasta Lane
Colaba 400 005
Hours: Tuesday—Saturday, 11—7 pm