Many thanks to everyone who joined us on Sunday 19 November, 3:45PM at the Prince Charles Cinema for a Screening of "Lumen" Directed by Sutapa Biswas, starring Natasha Patel.
Lumen is the name for a unit of light – a gradient of radiance. It is also an anatomical term for a bodily cavity or conduit, such as an artery, along which blood flows. These two meanings converge in the metaphor of ‘light at the end of a tunnel’; an expression that helps light a way into Sutapa Biswas’s film Lumen, setting the scene for its fluctuations of clarity and darkness, its alternating states of euphoria and trauma, its lurches between poetry and pathology. The film begins with the story of a baby emerging from a womb, and ends on a note of departure, with its female protagonist about to embark on a journey across uncharted waters. In between, we are entrusted with a series of intimate scenes from a life, recounted in an episodic monologue whose dramatic ebb and flow is sharply illumined by flashes of memory but indelibly haunted by fears and doubts.
The journey in question is inspired by the one undertaken, six decades ago, by the Biswas family. A passage from India, an exit precipitated by the artist’s father’s political beliefs, this abrupt uprooting continued to disturb and unsettle her mother. A lament for the sights and sounds of India she and her family had to leave behind on their protracted sea voyage to England, the film is also an angry reproach of centuries of colonial rule, and its implacable incursions on domestic life. Where history has often marginalised the female voice, Biswas reinstates it, not just as mainstay of family and home but as avatar of social conscience. Mixing archive material and newly filmed footage to embellish its bravura central monologue, Biswas lends this deeply personal narrative a compelling universal resonance. Seen through a glass darkly, Lumen sheds unflinching light on the ripple effects of a complex and turbulent past.
With special thanks to Film and Video Umbrella
Sutapa Biswas Biography
Born in Santiniketan, India and growing up in Britain, Sutapa Biswas is a conceptual artist working with drawing, photography, performance, film, and installation. Her work explores both the challenging legacies of colonialism and the postcolonial renegotiation of the unrecognised dialogues between European and Indian art and culture. A major figure in Black Arts Movement of the 1980s, Biswas was selected for the exhibition, The Thin Black Line, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London in 1985 curated by Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid. Biswas’s work has been regularly exhibited internationally and in Britain most recently in the Tate Liverpool and a double retrospective at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead and Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge in 2022-23. Her works are part of the Cartwright Hall Collection of British Asian Art, Tate Britain, London and the University of Leeds Gallery.
Griselda Pollock Biography
Griselda Pollock has curated exhibitions at Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam (1980), University of Leeds Gallery (1978, 1999, 2006, 2015, 2019-20), The Drawing Centre, London (2006), Freud Museum, London (2009), and as part of 14th Istanbul Biennial (2015). She has written extensively on modern and contemporary art, most recently with a special focus on issues or trauma and cultural memory. Recent publications include Charlotte Salomon in theTheatre of Memory (London & New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018), Killing Men & Dying Women: Imagining Difference in 1950s New York Painting(Manchester University Press, 2022), and co-edited with Max Silverman,Concentrationary Art: Jean Cayrol, the Lazarean and the Everyday in Post-war Film, Literature, Music and the Visual Arts (Berghahn, 2020), her chapter focussing on the recent work of Scottish contemporary sound artist Susan Philipsz.