Anthology Film Archives


April 10 – April 12

In 1976 the Indian painter Velu Viswanadhan suffered a serious car crash in Germany, en route from his adopted home in Paris. With limited mobility, he returned to India to collect sand from different regions of the country for what became his famed series of Sand Paintings.

Bringing with him a video camera at the behest of a friend, Viswanadhan also collected footage of the beaches he visited. Finished in 1982, the resultant film SABLE became the first of five experimental documentaries the multidisciplinary artist made inspired by the five elements of Indian cosmology. This program brings together this exceptional, underappreciated suite of films, which Viswanadhan shot in India through 2002 (with all but one lensed by acclaimed Malayalam filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan).

With the exception of SABLE, which incorporates poetic voice-over, the four subsequent projects – EAU/GANGA (1985), AGNI/FEU (1989), AIR/VAYU (1994), and ETHER/AAKAASH (2002) – exist as purely visual and sonic examinations of lives enmeshed with nature. Ranging from the conceptual EAU/GANGA, which traces the Ganges river from the mouth to its mountain source, to the associative AIR/VAYU, arguably the artist’s most beautiful work, the five films in the program offer a portrait of a country through the eyes of an artist, with an indelible reverence for rhythm, texture, color, and light.

Guest-programmed by Jesse Cumming. Special thanks to the Centre Pompidou and Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst e.V. All digital exhibition copies are courtesy of the Centre Pompidou.


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