Palimpsest: Madhuban Mitra & Manas Bhattacharya

23 August - 28 September 2013

Opening reception: Friday, August 23, 6:00-9:00 pm


The artists will make introductory remarks at 7:00 pm


For this exhibition, Madhuban Mitra and Manas Bhattacharya, the artist duo from Calcutta, have been invited to create an installation for the Mumbai Art Room. The project introduces a new projected work and a series of wall pieces, which together experiment with the ways we perceive, process, and think about photographs. The artists have seamlessly crafted these works from disparate sources, layering and integrating pictures from the past and present. Their exhibition title, Palimpsest, refers to the Latin word for an overwritten manuscript using a writing material such as parchment or a tablet, derived from a Greek word meaning scraped again.

As the artists state, “Palimpsest comprises two discrete but connected works that dwell on the knowability of the photographic image. Behaviour of Walls at 22.56˚N, 88.36˚E combines photographs of peeling paint on a wall in the National Instruments Ltd. camera factory in Kolkata, with a cache of battered 35mm negatives we found among the garbage onsite. Ostensibly belonging to the company employees, the negatives are a record of their everyday lives as well as tests to assess the capabilities of the National 35 camera they were building at the factory. As negative (rather than positive) images, they produce a photographic estrangement whereby the viewer is invited to invert the image in his/her head. Another series titled Bildungsroman, Chapter I, relates to the found images of the workers’ children, and treats black and white photographs from our own family albums as another kind of “found” imagery depicting two children, who happen to be us, as often unwilling subjects for the camera. Here, the viewer becomes part of the work and activates the palimpsest.”



Works in the exhibition



Behaviour of Walls at 22.56˚N, 88.36˚E, 2013

High-definition video projection, looped, silent

25 minutes

Courtesy of the artists



Bildungsroman, Chapter I, 2013

Black and white photographs on backlit film,

acrylic mirror, motion sensor, LED lights

two 21 3/4 x 16 1/2 x 1 1/2"; two 16 1/2 x 21 3/4 x 1 1/2"

Courtesy of the artists



About the Artists


Madhuban Mitra and Manas Bhattacharya have been working collaboratively since 2008 and had their debut solo exhibition, Through a Lens, Darkly, at Photoink, New Delhi, December 2010-February 2011. Parts of that work have been shown at the Thessaloniki Photobiennale, Greece and in the Singapore International Photography Festival in 2010. Through a Lens, Darkly was longlisted for the Skoda Prize for Contemporary Indian Art 2011, and won the Breakthrough Artist Award. Apart from photography, they work with film & video, animation, sound and text. Their video work has been shown in public spaces worldwide in the Art By Chance festival 2010, and in the Crosstalk Video Art Festival, Hungary; Isle of Wight Festival, UK; and the Attraction of Opposites programme of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands, among others.


Their work explores questions of memory, urbanity and the body; and their particular interests include the histories of film and photography; the intersections of the analog and the digital; the blurred boundaries between documentary and fiction; and notions of the archive.


The artists would like to thank the Media Lab, Jadavpur University for making their work in National Instruments Ltd. possible.