The 2017 film Such a Morning by Indian artist Amar Kanwar has its US premier at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, where it will air within the exhibition New Pictures: Amar Kanwar, Such a Morning. The 85-minute single-channel work takes installation form following its global debut at the 2017 documenta14 and lies within Kanwar’s larger body of work, which addresses power and resistance. Focusing on documentary and archive to inform his works, Kanwar’s oeuvre aims to expose overlooked histories and violence to reformulate a more critical, authentic view of reality.
The film opens with a solar eclipse and proceeds to shadow an elderly mathematics professor who has chosen a life of isolation in an abandoned train carriage. Kanwar uses this subject as a vehicle to discuss the fumbling nature that humanity adopts in trying to find resolutions in the dark, and through the film incorporates oscillating journeys from light to darkness until all are enveloped in complete black, or, blindness. This leads the professor to record his thoughts – occasionally in the form of hallucinations – in Almanac of the Dark, where he examines 49 types of darkness in the form of letters to former colleagues and students. This narrative element is developed upon within the exhibition through Kanwar’s Letters, a related series of video installations which will be installed on 3 May, along with 22 objects from the museum’s permanent collection which further contextualise his works in relation to South Asian artistic tradition.
In departing from traditional documentary and embracing slow cinema and its abstraction, complexity and fictional narrative structuring, this exhibition is strategically aimed at the US audience in order to illuminate and reveal concerns often only observed from a distance. As an additional element to the slow unfolding of components comprising the exhibition, Kanwar is also presenting a migratory research project entitled Curriculum for 49 Studies on Darkness, involving academic, artistic and political collaborators in order to explore what the museum asserts is the “Politics of Hope.” The project will be initiated by a conversation led by Kanwar on 15 April at MIA.