This activity is about looking closely at your environment, noticing how what goes on in it is often presented to you by others – through media, television, advertising and creating narratives which foreground your own perspectives and opinions.
Looking at the work of Poulomi Basu.
The following questions are designed to prompt and support group or class discussion about Poulomi Basu’s work and the themes she explores. Students might work in small groups or pairs then share their thoughts and opinions with the group.
Untitled, from the series, Centralia, 2010-2020 by Poulomi Basu documents the uncertainty and unsettledness of a conflict in central India between an indiginous tribal people and the Indian state, and how it affects her and others. Basu is paying close attention to the personal and public impact of political decisions.
Looking at the photograph: why do you think she has created a blurred image? What is the significance of the red structure in relation to the dark background?
Recording a Journey (a photography project)
In recent months we have had to pay very close attention to how and when we occupy outside space. Our interactions with other members of the public have become very conscious, and we are now being asked to pay much more attention to our body language and attitudes towards other people. How has this attention altered the way you occupy these spaces?
Create a viewfinder (aperture) with a piece of paper that you can look through whilst on the move – walking down the street, sitting on a bus, or as a passenger in a car. The aperture could be a circle or a square or anything in between.
Film what you see on your journey through the aperture using your phone camera. Film for up to 1 minute only. You can make more than one film. Watch your recordings and take note of what has been captured.
Reflect on what you have filmed. What do you notice that you didn’t notice before?
Use your films to inspire a series of photographs about your journey and how you interact with others. Your images might be based on either just one or two of the frames from your film, or inspired by the whole film.
Our perspective of our immediate landscape has changed because our freedom to roam was curtailed. How do you feel as you move through the streets of your village, town or city? What has changed for you and what has stayed the same?
Depending on who you are, your freedom to roam may well have already felt limited before lockdown happened. How do people respond to the close attention you are paying to your surroundings and how is this affecting you, and how and what you film?
Comments from the Contributor
I pay very close attention to the things that are unsaid or might go unnoticed in social situations. I am interested in how our emotions influence the way we interact in public, and I am always trying to find ways to make what connects us visible.
I was invited to do the same short film activity as part of a project I worked on and it struck me how much I caught on camera and what we miss in day to day interaction. Through a small, square aperture I filmed 30 seconds of one street, streaming random events into one continuous shot. The film ended with a blurred still image of two teenagers talking after school.
Other artists our contributor thinks might inspire you
I would like to introduce the artist Aida Muluneh, whose work feels in dialogue with Basu’s because of the way she is documenting the environment, environmental justice, natural resources, economics and inequality.
About the Contributor
Maria Amidu is a UK-based visual artist and writer, developing national and international site-specific and public realm projects. Her artistic concerns are influenced by the scope and significance of common experiences. She is interested in the relationships between people and place and what is hidden, obscured or unspoken in various social situations, using these elements as a means to try and substantiate myriad lived experiences.
The form her work takes is often artist’s books, print and photography, and more recently film. She also utilises her craft practice and makes works with wax, clay and cast glass. She has developed projects with various organisations including Somewhere (2020), SEAS Brighton; Edge/Threshold/Brink (2018) Nuit Blanche Toronto; Act, Campaign, Petition, Reform, Lobby, Argue and Soit Droit Fait Come est Desire (Let it be done as it is desired) (2015), Houses of Parliament; and A Moment of Your Time (2013), People United & Turner Contemporary. She is a Winston Churchill Fellow, and PhD Candidate at the Royal College of Art, London.