Geeta and Me
Shot on super 8mm film this short, experimental film was made while on artist residency to India as part of Cork's European City of Culture International Artists' Residency Programme 2005. The film shows a young Indian woman absorbed in her task of hanging out washing on a roof top in Mumbai. Half way through we hear a voice (the artist) reciting a poem by Kamila Das, one of the few modern, female poets who developed a national and international reputation and, moreover, known for her sensual and erotic explorations of the interior sexual longings of Indian women - traditionally considered taboo.
Concept & Technique
I was originally drawn by the concrete rooftop of the private residency in the suburbs of Bangalore where we were hosted by the curator's 'Auntie' for a section of our five week artist's residency. This space was used for the laundry and everyday ''Geeta" - one of the many house servants - would come - usually - very early to hang the households washing in the open air to dry. For me it became a type of 'Domestic Theatre' with Geeta the solo player. This was her space, she totally inhabited it and for the rest of the day was pretty much invisible around the house. With her permission I also hung out on the rooftop, enjoying the breeze, the amazing views and would fill in my journal there.Meanwhile I visited a well-known bookshop across town that was known for selling influential Indian literature translated into English. I have a practice, for many years now, of seeking out the poems of the different countries I am lucky to experience on Artist's Residency. It was there I discovered the poems of Kamala Das or Surayya, popularly known by her one-time pen name Madhavikutty and bought my first book of her poetry. Thus began the first seeds of the idea for 'Geeta and Me' - to bring together one of these, remarkable, daring visceral poems and my daily visualisations of Geeta on the rooftop. Shooting in super 8mm meant that a very direct, edit in camera approach. However my only experience of making experimental films up to that point was with a hand-held Super 8 camera so I was only familiar and enjoyed that process. For me, shooting without seeing the process (as with video) was all part of the mystery of the process from what I imagined I was shooting to what would finally arrived in the little yellow packet many months later, this is where the excitement of the creative process lay. Also the way film plays with real light was very critical to what I was after in this piece, it is as much a poem about place as it is about Geeta, me and Kamala.
Triskel Art Centre; Cork, Ireland: European City of Culture Exhibition - curated by Cliodhna Shaffrey in 2005
Geeta and Me
Female body, taboo, poetry, Feminism
Film 8mm / Super8mm