Digital Video. 35 mins. 2015
Supported by India Foundation for the Arts
Early morning, 1973, close to the sea; the artist K.Ramanujam disappears or perhaps turns into a black dog. The place is by the coast of Madras, at the Cholamandal Artists' Village, where Ramanujam lived. At times he lived even within his paintings and drawings, though rarely without his hat. The hat too was seen outside, sometimes in a photograph, or as a gift from someone or hovering by the sea. Meanwhile the pillars, the facades, the giant tunnels grow entangled with clouds, acid holes and insects. Speculations emerge, on forgotten materials, decay and immortality.
Cholamandal Artists' Village in Madras (Chennai) falls along the south-eastern coast of India. The village was set up in 1966 by a group of young artists from The Madras College of Art, under the guidance of their teacher K.C.S Panicker. The idea was to experiment with a fusion of community living and contemporary art, to develop a culture of sharing thought, space and studios, maintaining relative independence from the commercial market. It was a radical move at the time, when art infrastructures were scarce in the newly formed nation and artists could normally hope for little more than regular jobs in cinema or advertising. Beginning with the purchase of plots of land by the seaside far away from the city, Cholamandal soon had a gallery with small graphic and batik studios, and over time the artists developed their own publication and annual exhibitions. All this purely from the sale of artworks, with almost no support from any state entity or sustained private patronage. The works produced by the artists there are now considered prominent examples of The Madras Movement in Indian Modernism. Many from the original group continue to reside and work there, and a museum hosting a permanent collection of their work was opened in 2009.