MINNEAPOLIS—March 28, 2018—This spring, the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) presents the U.S. premiere of Such a Morning (2017), a film by New Delhi–based artist Amar Kanwar (b. 1964, New Delhi). The 85-minute single-channel film installation, which debuted internationally in 2017 at documenta 14, is the centerpiece of the exhibition “New Pictures: Amar Kanwar, Such a Morning,” on view April 15 to August 12, 2018. It is the latest in Mia’s “New Pictures” series, which showcases artists who push the boundaries of photography and new media and respond to Mia’s encyclopedic art collection.
Kanwar’s work examines power and resistance. The artist experiments with documentary materials and archival footage to explore the hidden dimensions of personal encounters with history and violence, unveiling a critical perspective on reality. In Such a Morning, Kanwar departs from documentary tradition, adopting instead a slow cinema marked by abstraction and a complex fictional narrative structure. Opening with a solar eclipse, the film follows an ageing mathematics professor who quits his job and isolates himself in an abandoned train carriage. Kanwar examines the multiplicities of light and darkness and the progression from one to the other, as the professor gradually screens out all light and adapts to a probable encroaching blindness. Over time, the professor records his epiphanies and hallucinations in an “Almanac of the Dark,” an examination of 49 types of darkness, which he expresses in letters to his former colleagues and students.
These dispatches become the foundation for Kanwar’s Letters, a separate but related series of video installations. Three works from Letters will also be on view at Mia, starting May 3, alongside 22 objects from the museum’s permanent collection. The juxtaposition will explore Kanwar’s work in the context of varied approaches to the quest for truth in South Asian traditions.
Yasufumi Nakamori, Mia’s Curator and Head of the Department of Photography and New Media, and Padma D. Maitland, the museum’s Jane Emison Assistant Curator of South & Southeast Asian Art, collaborated to bring Kanwar’s work to Minneapolis.
“Such a Morning speaks to the search for meaning so relevant to us today,” said Nakamori. “For this reason, it is imperative to bring this film to a U.S. audience. Like Kanwar’s professor, we are in many ways fumbling in the dark, seeking visions, revelations, and answers.”
The film will be shown every 90 minutes during museum hours, starting at 10:10 a.m. Visitors are welcome to join at any time during the duration of the film.
A migratory research and discursive project initiated by Kanwar accompanies the exhibition. “Curriculum for 49 Studies on Darkness” will involve academic, artistic, and political collaborators. Mia will partner with the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and other Twin Cities–based scholars to explore “The Politics of Hope,” the topic chosen by the museum’s curators in response to Kanwar’s proposition. The project launches April 15 at Mia with a conversation led by Kanwar.
Generous support for “New Pictures: Amar Kanwar, Such a Morning” is provided by the Anne Levy Fund.
About Amar Kanwar
Amar Kanwar’s recent solo exhibitions include the Tate Modern, London (2018); Bildmuseet, Umea, Sweden (2017); Goethe Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, Mumbai (2016); and the Assam State Museum in collaboration with Kiran Nadar Museum of Art and North East Network, India (2015). He also had solo exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2008); the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2007); and the Renaissance Society, Chicago (2004).
Currently featured in the Lahore Biennale, Pakistan, Kanwar has participated in documenta 11, 12, 13, and 14 in Kassel, Germany (2002, 2007, 2012, 2017); 56th Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (2013); 13th Istanbul Biennial (2013); 5th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2013); 11th Sharjah Biennale, UAE (2013); and 1st Kochi Biennale, India (2013). Kanwar has received awards including the Prince Claus Award (2017); Leonore Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change (2014); an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts, Maine College of Art (2006); the Edvard Munch Award for Contemporary Art, Norway (2005); and the MacArthur Fellowship in India (2000).