The Mancunion

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Remembering Partition with New North South: Neha Choksi

Manchester Art Gallery delves deep through the medium of South Asian film with Neha Choksi

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To continue with our feature on the New North South exhibition series, we turn to Neha Choksi who has created an immersive seven-screen film installation specifically for the Manchester Art Gallery. Exploring the influence of community, it addresses the idea that to be yourself, you always need others.

In our modern world, so much information, knowledge and experience is shared through video – which positions film as an interesting medium to explore artistic concept. It would be easy to presume that because of our constant over-exposure to it, a viewer would be able to decipher meaning and intention in filmed content simply – yet with artistic film, this is often not the case. Understand the background, meaning and intention behind it, and a piece will really open up.

Faith In Friction (2017) sees Choksi explore Jain Ashram, a place of spiritual retreat, which is currently being expanded and modernised. It’s a place where people can go to escape the hubbub of normal life, just north of Mumbai in India.

The architecture of this landscape became a recurring image explored across the five projections and two monitors showing the film in the gallery. The unfinished buildings appear powerfully raw, jagged, and unnatural through the camera lens. Vast quantities of scaffolding, devoid of human presence, were elevated beyond the mundane and seemed almost symbolic of the human condition to want more than you have, and to be continually on a quest to expand and conquer.

The installation itself is a psychologically engaging investigation of what it means to be an individual, and how we can be varied depending on the different groups of people we surround ourselves with, and how they shape our personalities. A collaboration with other artists, Choksi’s piece features other notable work, including Neha Choksi and Rachelle Rojany’s Swing For Friends (2017) which was shown at the Frieze Art Fair in London.  As an act of trust in the vision of others, Choksi filmed 34 hours worth of footage, but then gave the tape to seven different editors who each made a different film using the same initial content, therein forming a community of sorts out of her solo experience.

Faith In Friction sees Choksi triumphantly construct an intellectually stimulating installation which transcends cultural borders. Sitting in that dark room, with seven screens, seven varying views of the same world – alone or accompanied – you are offered a way out of the isolation. A retreat from our sphere of influence, this piece is a must see for Mancunians.

Neha Choksi’s film installation exhibition is on at the Manchester Art Gallery from Saturday 30th September 2017 to Sunday 25th February 2018.