A Short Animated Narrative

Single Channel Projection

5min 50sec

This work was done at the KHOJ International Artist's workshop in Kolkata, 2006. The workshop took as its site an old zamidarbari (landlord's mansion) in Baruipur, a place close to the southern extension of Kolkata. Dweposit, the animated narrative that I worked on was my response to this particular site and its politics. The zamidarbari seems to occupy an important place in the popular Bengali imagination as a site of 'traditional Bengali culture'. Articulated as a site of memory, the zamidarbari and its network of architectural spaces typically associated with specific rituals and festivities, repeatedly surface in films, TV serials, advertisements, literature and music as the very embodiment of tradition. But as we all know, tradition is always an ambiguous and contested terrain: the purported timelessness of tradition is often a political 'invention' of a very specific nature.

My way of engaging with the Chaudhuri Bari was to try and scrape through this patina of 'traditional culture' and look at other recalcitrant artefacts of history. In fact, what interested me more in the Chadhuri Bari site was the large expanse of land that surrounds the actual house. The animated narrative that I present here started evolving from this point. One could possibly view Dweposit as an allegorical take on the "land question". From the Permanent Settlement of 1793 that chalked out the basic legal framework of landed property in colonial Bengal to the tribals who are rendered landless by the postcolonial state obsessed with a flawed vision of 'progress', land and its ownership remains a crucially important node in the complex ramifications of power.