24 September 2013

Healing Arts in an Ancient Indian Tradition

‘Ayurveda: Art of Being,’ a 2001 documentary film by Pan Nalin, opens with an elderly man collecting and washing plants by a riverside, begging pardon from the Lord for uprooting them, saying that they are necessary for medicine. That single scene encapsulates the main message of this film, echoing Hindu cosmology, that for Ayurveda ‘everything in and around us are one and single existence.’ Dr. G. Gangadharan of the Medicinal Plant Conservation Centre in Kerala, India, elaborates on this principle: ‘The microcosm, the body in which we are living, or that of all the living beings, and the macrocosm around us, are all part of one unit. And the role of the physician is merely the role of a conveyer belt between these two, where he may be processing something so that the body can easily assimilate it. Other than that, there is nothing. He is doing nothing other than substituting things which are lacking in the system by things which are available externally.’

09 September 2013

Trinh T. Minh-ha on Images and Politics

Trinh T. Minh-ha is a Vietnamese independent filmmaker, post-colonial theorist and feminist thinker whose work is widely shown internationally, and who has taught at various universities in the United States, and also in Japan and Senegal. Her work as an artist, teacher and writer consistently engages questions of hegemony, methodology and patriarchy. Her 1982 film 'Reassemblage,' made as part of her ethnographic research in Senegal, challenges the dichotomies of self/other, object/subject, and maker/viewer. Rather than reproducing the authoritative narrative voices and linear story lines of documentary film, for 'Reassemblage' she offered virtually no narration and employed a disorienting editing style of constantly shifting images, musical snippets and occasional silences that challenge the conventions of representation. In this essay, she uses her films as a point of departure for a discussion on the necessity of making films politically, the task of interrogating various forms of repression, and the ongoing struggle to move across and beyond boundaries so as to work, think and act differently.