Sutapa Biswas
LUMEN

2022
LONDON: AUTOGRAPH

About the exhibition

Where history has often marginalised the female voice, Sutapa Biswas’s newly-commissioned film Lumen reinstates it, not just as mainstay of family and home but as avatar of social conscience. Autograph is supporting the commission, and in 2022 will exhibit the film at our gallery in a solo exhibition.

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 Biswas’s Lumen, setting the scene for its fluctuations of clarity and darkness, its alternating states of euphoria and trauma, its lurches between poetry and pathology.

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Autograph

Rivington Place

London, EC2A 3BA


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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.

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.

Find Out More

Follow Sutapa Biswa on Instagram and Twitter

Read Sutapa Biswas’s Housewives With Steak-Knives: avenging goddess on The Guardian.

Watch Manchester School of Art's Bunker Talks with Sutapa Biswas.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Lumen (2021), by Sutapa Biswas is co-commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art with Art Fund support through the Moving Image Fund for Museums. This programme is made possible thanks to Thomas Dane Gallery and a group of private galleries and individuals. The commission has been additionally supported by Autograph.

The Lumen Commission is SUPPORTED BY


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Autograph


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Page images: Sutapa Biswas, Lumen (2021), pre-grade still.