exhibition The Sovereign Forest (2011-15): by Amar Kanwar

In collaboration with Sudhir Pattnaik / Samadustri and Sherna Dastur

11 am to 7 pm, Monday to Saturday
Opening: December 4, 6:30 pm

The Sovereign Forest emerges from the conflict in Odisha, India between local communities of farmers and indigenous tribes and the government and mining corporations. As forests, agricultural lands, rivers, coastlines, homes and livelihoods come under severe assault Kanwar raises several questions. How can an artist intervene? How to understand crime? What is the vocabulary that can speak of a series of simultaneous disappearances occurring across multiple dimensions of our lives? Can poetry be presented as evidence in a criminal or political trial?

Central to The Sovereign Forest is the film The Scene of Crime, which offers an experience of a landscape just prior to erasure. Almost every image is from proposed industrial sites, territories marked and in the process of being acquired by government and corporations. The Sovereign Forest bears witness to communities in resistance as well as lone, ordinary individuals who speak with extraordinary voices.

Kanwar work surpasses fact, revealing a richer, more fluid and poetic perspective on reality and on “the meaning of what is happening.” Engaging the viewer in manifold ways of “seeing” and “comprehending,” The Sovereign Forest thus harnesses a set of propositions that investigate the notion of “poetry as evidence” to create different vocabularies to express memories, faculties of archiving, and of telling a story. 

The Sovereign Forest was opened for public viewing at the Samadrusti campus on the 15th of August 2012, in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The exhibition is still open to public in Bhubaneswar and continues to evolve to this day.

The work has been previously presented at the Edinburgh Art Festival,  Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna; Menil Foundation, Houston, Centre Pompidou, Paris; TarraWarra Museum of Art, Australia; Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; Sharjah Biennale;  13th Istanbul Biennial; the 5th Moscow Biennale; Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012 and dOCUMENTA(13) in Kassel, Germany.

Produced with the support of Samadrusti, Odisha; Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, England; Public Press, New Delhi and dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel.