Who is asleep and who is awake in this city, this home, this settlement, and this fortress of nothingness? What is the relation between building and consciousness? This film involves building and construction alongside characters enacting scenes in which dramatic action mobilizes conventions of representing birth, death, sex, dance, play, music and violence in local traditions of story-telling. A group of performers enacting a set of disparate scenes carry the thrust of the cinematic action alongside the construction of the set. The set is constructed by five craftsmen, who erect the buildings through the length of the film as a parallel narrative. This set is also recreated in the gallery becoming the mise-en-scene for viewing the film. The viewer walks through the set to reach the film and returns through the set. The set construction is thus both a mediation and a performance of the first order. The film reflects on the construction of the set or the stage, the musical score and performance - three distinct processes that are fundamental to cinematic narrative and time. These three independent streams, integral to story-telling in cinema remain parallel, never converging to create an authoritative narrative.
The gallery viewer is offered these components in various states of construction and has the opportunity to put these modular pieces together in constructing a narrative that may draw upon their experience, imagination and history as persons. The gallery turns into a space mediating cinematic narrative as it foregrounds and layers different sources of mediation required to produce narrative. The performers’ actions unfold in the scenography provided by the set construction while the viewer’s experience of the film comes from stepping into the space opened up by these scene to resolve the film’s open-ended structure. The film-maker as auteur dissolves into these layers of mediations.
The work draws on a poetic work by 12th century poet Gorakhnath who also influenced his celebrated successor Kabir. These poetic traditions rejected idol worship but populated their verses with the concrete symbolism of the built world and things within it, with references to nature and the environment as metaphors for the body and its beyond. In terms of narrative and aesthetic structure, successive verses of longer poems set up contradictions that remain unresolved and open-ended while also remaining structurally bound to each other. The film’s conceptual form opens the possibility that these pieces can be taken apart and placed in opposition to each other to discover a relation between what is real and what is imagined. Its experience raises the possibility of recreating these aesthetic ideas in contemporary forms and media, in the space of the gallery/museum challenging conventions of cinematic experience and representation.