Writing the Present: The Arts, Humanities & the Polyphony of our Wor(l)ds

Oct 06, 2016
  • 4:00 PM
  • Location:
    Peter Wall Institute, Seminar Room 307
    6331 Crescent Road

Seminar participants are invited to read the short essay by scholar Lata Mani, ”Writing the Present” before this seminar, which explores the contribution the arts and humanities offer in our analytical and personal engagements. The seminar will also feature a screening of the film De Sidere 7, 38 minutes (by Nicolás Grandi & Lata Mani) and open up to a wider discussion of the film and paper. 

Abstract, “Writing the Present” by Lata Mani

Critical discourse in India has largely been shaped by the social sciences. This paper suggests that the exploratory sensibility of the arts and the humanities has a specific and productive contribution to make in the present context in which knowledge is instrumentalized and language deemed transactional. Mani analyses her efforts to experiment with form in rethinking urbanism and the contemporary moment – the video-poem and the multi-genre collection – and makes a case for construing argument as a polyphonic form.

De Sidere 7 is an experimental work that interweaves performance, dance, poetry, storytelling and text to reflect upon aspects of desire. The film scripts the work of Tsohil Bhatia, Niranjani Iyer, Joshua Muyiwa, Shabari Rao and Deepak Srinivasan into a sensorially rich meditation on desire’s vexed status as at once, animating force, object of suspicion and ground of contention. De Sidere 7 is conceived as a videocontemplation: a formally plural, multilayered composition intended to be experienced as an integrated whole.

Film HD, 2014, 38 minutes. English with Spanish subtitles. Watch the trailer.

Lata Mani is a feminist historian, cultural critic, contemplative writer and filmmaker. She has published on a broad range of issues, from feminism and colonialism, to illness, spiritual philosophy and contemporary politics. She is the author of The Integral Nature of Things: Critical Reflections on the Present (Routledge, 2013), Interleaves: Ruminations on Illness and Spiritual Life (Yoda, 2011), Sacred Secular: Contemplative Cultural Critique, (Routledge, 2009) and Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India (University of California Press, 1989).

Nicolás Grandi is a Buenos Aires based filmmaker, interdisciplinary artist and educator. He has been teaching film theory and practice in universities, schools and community workshops in Argentina and India and has cofounded several collectives working at the intersection of film, poetry, music and sculpture. He currently runs transdisciplinary art labs. His films which include La Pasión Según Ander (2005) and Simon Decouvre (2000) have been screened widely at film festivals around the world.

Previous film collaborations between Nicolás Grandi and Lata Mani: Here-Now (2012); Nocturne I and Nocturne II (2013); De Sidere 7 (2014); The Earth on its Axis, We in our Skin: The Tantra of Embodiment (2015). More at http://www.latamani.com/

These events have been made possible by the Department of Asian Studies, Green College, the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice, the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies Program, and the Hari Sharma Foundation.