Galerie Marian Goodman presents a new exhibition of work by Amar Kanwar, the second with the artist at the Paris gallery. The show features his latest film Such a Morning, a modern parable about two people’s quiet engagement with truth. The work premiered at Documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel in 2017 is showed here along with seven installations of letters composed of video and light projections on paper.
Searching for a way to re-comprehend the difficult times we are living in, Kanwar asks “What is it that lies beyond, when all arguments are done with? How to reconfigure and respond again?” Such a Morning unlocks a metaphysical response to our contemporary reality as it navigates multiple hallucinations between speech and silence, fear and freedom, democracy and fascism. In the 85-minute film, a famous mathematician at the peak of his career unexpectedly withdraws from his life and retreats to the wilderness to live in an abandoned train carriage. Creating a zone of darkness so as to acclimatize himself before total darkness descends, the professor begins to live in a realm bereft of light. Thus starts an epic sensory journey into a new plane of emotional resonance between the self and the surrounding world. A parallel story about a woman emerges within the course of the film, providing a compelling, analogous narrative to the protagonist’s. Over time, the professor records his epiphanies and hallucinations in an “almanac of the dark”, an examination of 49 types of darkness that emerge as a series of letters.
Based originally on Kanwar’s research into the diversity of existing narrative structures in the Indian subcontinent, Such a Morning reaches beyond place to expose the complexity of a fractious moment in history in which every truth seems to have an opposite brutal truth. As part of his film Kanwar conceived a narrative that continues beyond the film—the professor continues to write his letters—towards a research project with diverse artistic, pedagogic, metaphysical and political collaborations. These become the rubric for a continuing project, which are at the core of the series of Letters that accompany the film and are shown on the ground floor of the gallery. The seven Letters presented here contain texts, 17 video projections, 45 light projections. The handmade paper for the Letters was made by Sherna Dastur at the Nirupama Academy of Paper, Kolkatta, India.
The train coach built for the film remains in Delhi, a memorial for the teacher who refused to conform, who stepped off the tracks and wandered into the wild.