Research Art & Documentary

In this project we aimed to evolve research art as an exercise that can simultaneously place the research material and certain derivative readings / art works in the public domain - with an open invitation for further speculations and interventions to be layered over the base material.

Though the practices of research, documentation and art making reside, broadly, in the same intellectual sphere there is a general convention to make them unrelated to each other. Going by the convention, research and documentation are categorized as related to the past whereas art making engages with an exercise in speculating the future. This exclusivity is said to have been propagated to save art making practices from being reductionist and also to guard the documentary from being contaminated by the subjective imagination that is prevalent in art.

Conceived and structured as a multi-channel venture, Project Cinema City playfully combined and hybridized image making, documentary practices, research methodology, found resources, copy works and artistic speculations. Research art, within such a parameter, required to possess certain amount of flamboyance and irreverentiality in order to break the thresholds of all – the research, the documents and the art.

We developed a working method that would be kneading fragments of various seemingly independent strands of timeline and practices into one magisterial entity. And that could be achieved only by upsetting the aura of original in favour of the abundant creativity of copying and transforming. Documentary practices, with its plethora of strategies to problematize the rigid materiality of documents and the fixity of document-based narratives, seemed to be the ideal strategy to employ in this case.

In this project we placed the unprocessed anthropological research and accredited data in the public domain in the form of art installations and thus exposing them to interpolations and fragmentations by the public historians. In this, the merit of individual artists or artworks was less important than the potential of layering the works through an eco-system of research–documentation-production–intervention-research… Thus the public-ness of the research was tested by its capacity to bear the tenacity of art-making; and, at the same time, the flexibility of the artworks was expanded by pushing them to accommodate the layers of historicity that the research kept throwing up.

And thus, an experimental circular form of collaboration, without upsetting the autonomy of each individual researcher / artist / interventionist, and without ever closing the works from expanding / transforming, was evolved.