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NTU CCA presents Amar Kanwar: The Sovereign Forest


NTU CCA presents Amar Kanwar: The Sovereign Forest
The Scene of Crime (2011) by Amar Kanwar. Image courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery.

The NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (NTU CCA Singapore) debuts New Delhi-based artist and filmmaker Amar Kanwar's new work entitled The Sovereign Forest in Southeast Asia from the 30th July – 9th October 2016.  

In collaboration with media activist Sudhir Pattnilk, and designer and filmmaker Sherna Dastur, The Sovereign Forest initiates a creative response to one’s understanding of crime, politics, human rights and ecology. Through a collection of films, texts, books, photographs, objects, seeds and processes, this exhibition focuses on the exhaustive struggles over the resource-rich land of Odisha in east India and the issue of its ownership.

Amar Kanwar, The Scene of Crime (2011) & installation view of "The Sovereign Forest," TBA 21, Vienna, Austria (2013-2014)
Image courtesy of the artist

Over the past decade, Kanwar has been filming the industrial interventions that have reshaped and permanently destroyed parts of Odisha’s landscape. The resulting conflicts between local communities, the government, and corporations over the use of agricultural lands, forests, rivers, and minerals have led to a battleground of the politics of power, violence and justice.

The Scene of Crime (2011) is a film included in the exhibition that records the specific landscapes and territories that are proposed industrial sites and are in the process of being acquired by government and corporations in Odisha - just prior to erasure. In addition, three large, handmade books, The Counting Sisters and Other Stories (2011), The Prediction (1991-2012) and The Constitution (2012), have their own films projected onto their individual pages. Containing local fables and pieces of ‘evidence’ like fishing nets, a cloth garment, rice seeds, among others, they form a visual narrative that allows viewers to experience the conflict and understand the personal lives that exist within this natural landscape.

Installation view of The Sovereign Forest at dOCUMENTA (13)
Photocredit: Henrik Stromberg

The Sovereign Forest captures the magnitude of scams and hardships faced by the affected population, and forces all who viewers to question one’s understanding of the crime and conflict around us. In 2012, The Sovereign Forest opened for public viewing at the Samadrusti campus in Bhubaneswar, Odisha as a permanent installation in collaboration with Samadrusti, an activist media organisation.  Through sharing their thoughts, insights and contribution of evidence, visitors to the exhibition have made The Sovereign Forest an ongoing project.

Installation view of "The Sovereign Forest" at YSP, England 2013-2014
Photocredit: Jonty Wilde

To continue Kanwar’s open approach towards archiving, and seeing and thinking about human environmental repercussions of development, a comprehensive public programme inclusive of workshops, performative responses, tours and film screenings for The Sovereign Forest has been organised. Furthermore, a special project organised by NTU CCA that will be presented at The Lab space, focuses on the haze situation in the region – borrowing Kanwar’s methodology in its attempt to better understand an ongoing social and environmental issue close to home.

Installation view of "The Sovereign Forest" at dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany 2012
Image Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery



The Sovereign Forest is on from 30 July - 9 October 2016  at NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, Block 43 Malan Road, Gillman Barracks, Singapore 109443. 

Visit the NTU CCA Singapore website for more details. 

Any views or opinions in the interview are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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