Desire Machine Collective

Extending Arts Practice

Grant Period: Over one year and six months

Collaborating since 2004 as Desire Machine Collective (DMC), Sonal Jain and Mriganka Madhukaillya - whose individual arts practice include film, video, sound, and installation - have been working with dysfunctional and redundant spaces, to reactivate them, and explore the ideas of both site-specificity and public art. Their most known public project, Periferry, for example, activated a disused ferry and converted it into a space for research, discussions, residencies, and art projects that crossed boundaries between art, cinema, environmental science, architecture, urban design and cultural critique. Sonal and Mriganka are invested in their location in Guwahati, and their new project, Camera Praxis, is a moving image laboratory of sorts, which uses location as an entry-point, and will involve young students from the North-East in a year-long mentorship programme on film production and curation.

Camera Praxis brings together Sonal and Mriganka’s concerns as filmmakers with their interest in location, art and film history. One of their major concerns has been the defacto peripheral place accorded to the North-East, and through DMC they have attempted to bring the local into conversation with the global. The project Camera Praxis explores the possibilities for generating moving image content that is site-specific, enabling experimentation with the cinematic form drawing inspiration from the local visual and cultural context. This experiment is a response to the dominant culture of film viewing in Assam, as well as the influence of South East Asian, and particularly Korean and Chinese film cultures in the region. DMC will be partnering with the Foundation for Social Transformation, which has a studio and workshop space, and is well networked with young artists and filmmakers in the region.

DMC will circulate a call for applications for a film production and curation workshop, and will select a group of 10 to 15 young filmmakers to participate in a series of six workshops held over the year (in script-writing, camera techniques, editing, film production and post-production), which will be organised and held together by Sonal and Mriganka with help from one or two other local resource persons. In addition, the laboratory will also include a week long workshop to screen a package of films curated by Kaushik Bhaumick, whose area of expertise is Asian cinema. This workshop will initiate a discussion on film aesthetics and form, and will be used as the introductory workshop to initiate project ideas for the participating filmmakers. The workshop series will involve an on-going parallel process of film screenings on a regular basis, and filmmakers will also get periodic feedback about their own film projects. Finally, the workshops will culminate in a mini-film festival which will curate some of the films generated in the laboratory along with more mainstream moving image content. The final selection of films will be curated by the students in collaboration with Bhaumick.