Autograph, London

Sutapa Biswas

4 March - 4 June 2022

Past Exhibition
Curated by Mark Sealy

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Rivington Place
London EC2A 3BA, UK

past Exhibition

The exhibition is now finished. View our current exhibitions here


Where history has often marginalised the female voice, Lumen reinstates it, not just as a mainstay of family and home but as an avatar of social conscience. Autograph presents the London premiere of Sutapa Biswas’ acclaimed film in a new solo exhibition.

Born in India and educated in the UK, Biswas’ art is underpinned by an interest in colonial histories and how this relates to gender, race and class. Her newly-commissioned 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. Inspired by the artist’s journey by ship with her family from Mumbai to Dover in the 1960s, Lumen gives voice to her mother and grandmother through a poetic and powerful monologue spoken by the actress Natasha Patel.

Stories of migration and displacement unfold and overlap while memories, images and sounds ebb and flow. These are a lament for the sights and sounds of India Biswas 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. Shot in locations across the west coast of India and at the Red Lodge Museum in Bristol, Lumen incorporates historic footage filmed during the late period of the British Raj in India, alongside imagery dating from the 1700s when the British East India Company was established. Mixing archive material and new footage, Biswas lends this personal narrative a compelling universal resonance.

Lumen sheds unflinching light on the ripple effects of a complex and turbulent past. Imaginatively illuminating the long shadows of the past, Biswas suggests the potential to make a better, shared future.



about the artist

Sutapa Biswas

is an interdisciplinary artist working across a range of media including painting, drawing, film, photography and installation. Born in India and educated in the UK, Biswas graduated with a BA in Fine Art with Art History from Leeds University in 1985. She has a postgraduate degree from the Slade School of Art, London, and was a research student at the Royal College of Art, London.

Biswas first came to prominence in the mid-1980s when, following graduation, her work was exhibited in the landmark exhibition Thin Black Line curated by the artist Lubaina Himid (Turner Prize winner 2017). A conceptual artist, Biswas’s works are shaped by her observations about the relationships between people and the places in which they live. She is especially fascinated in how larger historical narratives collide with personal narratives. Visually striking, as the author and art critic Laura Cumming writes “Biswas has a poet’s gift for…contemplative echoes and metaphors”, her works through its layered juxtapositions tell unsettling truths. Underpinned by an interest in colonial histories and how they relate to gender, race and class, her art is nuanced by the ways in which oral narratives reveal the human condition and its relationship to our collective histories and to questions of time and space.


Sutapa Biswas: Lumen book

£20, This publication details Biswas’s career from its origins in the Black Arts Movement in the 1980s to her important photographic installations of the 1990s and her subsequent major moving-image works, including her newly commissioned film Lumen.

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Sutapa Biswas and Griselda Pollock In Conversation

Wed 1June, 7pm - Online
Biswas will explore the wider contexts and the decolonial politics in her acclaimed film Lumen, with feminist art historian Griselda Pollock

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Mothers' Tongue: Spoken Word Evening

Thu 19 May, 6pm
Save the date for a special Thursday Late opening to join us for an evening of spoken word performance

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Exhibitions Opening night

Thu 3 March, 6pm
Join us to celebrate the launch of two powerful new exhibitions at Autograph's gallery in Hackney

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Everyone is welcome at Autograph. We care about our visitors, staff, artists and community, and have measures in place to help ensure a safe visit for everyone. Have a look at our Visit Us page, it has full information about Covid-19 safety and accessibility at Autograph.

film times

Lumen is 30 minutes long, and will start at :00 and :30 each hour



Help us keep everyone safe. If you are able to, please wear a face covering during your visit.


Accessible VEnue

Autograph welcomes people with all types of disabilities.


accessible Toilets

Each floor has an accessible toilet. All toilets are single-occupancy and unisex.


Step free

Our building and entrance is step free. A wheelchair accessible lift goes to all floors.

also on at autograph

Poulomi Basu: Fireflies

Free exhibition, 4 March - 4 June 2022
In her deeply emotive and powerful new series Fireflies, Indian artist and activist Poulomi Basu reflects on experiences of trauma – particularly patriarchal violence – navigating the claustrophobia of home, dreams of freedom, defiance, and transcendence.

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discover more


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You can take the survey here. Thank you!


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. The commission has been additionally supported by Autograph.

The Lumen commission is supported by

exhibition also supported by

Banner image: Lumen, 2021, © Sutapa Biswas. Thanks to Carlotta Cardana.

Film stills: Lumen, 2021, © Sutapa Biswas
Visit us: Autograph, London. Photograph by Zoë Maxwell.
Also on at Autograph: Poulomi Basu,from Fireflies [detail], 2019 - ongoing. © and courtesy the artist.
Discover more images: 1 and 3) Film stills: Lumen, 2021, © Sutapa Biswas. 2) Sutapa Biswas. Photograph by Theo Deproost.