Hard Cover, English, Thread Stitching, 260 Pages, 2009
The Torn First Pages
Amar Kanwar's The Torn First Pages is an ode to the thousands engaged in the struggle for democracy in Burma. It is published in honor of the bookshop owner Ko Than Htay, who was imprisoned for removing the first pages of all books and journals that contained ideological propaganda from the military regime.
"Imagine the formal presentation of poetry as evidence in a future war crimes tribunal. Imagine twenty sheets of paper floating forever in the wind." (Amar Kanwar) "The Torn First Pages" is a 20-channel video installation in three parts by the Indian artist and filmmaker Amar Kanwar, co-commissioned by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary. Made between 2003-08 this filmic installation will be premiered at Haus der Kunst in its recently completed form and run from October 8 to November 9, 2008. "The Torn First Pages" is an ode to the thousands engaged in the struggle for democracy in Burma and presented in honor of the bookshop owner Ko Than Htay, who was imprisoned for 'tearing out the first page' of all books and journals that contained ideological slogans from the military regime. The twenty-channel video installation directly, elliptically and metaphorically encounters resistance and the struggle for a democratic society, contemporary forms of non-violence, political exile, memory and dislocation.
"The Torn First Pages" takes the viewer on a visual journey into the stories, lives and violent deaths of the protagonists of Burmese resistance virtually combining a poetic expressivity in image and language with the exploration of violence in its multifarious forms and its capacity of intruding the private, the personal, the home. With a penetrating, telescopic gaze Kanwar rescues and reanimates the image and its history in our collective memories. In Kanwar's investigations, the image is the "presentation of poetry", but is also being examined with reference to the question of "evidence", the process of collecting, archiving and circulating material evidences of crime and political resistance.
Amar Kanwar lives and works in New Delhi where he was born in 1964. He had solo exhibitions in Whitechapel Art Gallery, London and Apeejay Media Gallery, New Delhi (2007), at the National Museum, Oslo (2006) and The Renaissance Society in Chicago (2004) amongst others. He has participated in various group exhibitions such as Documenta 11 (2003) and 12 (2007) in Kassel, Sydney Biennial 2006, Image War: Contesting Images Of Political Conflict, ISP Exhibition, Whitney Museum, New York, and Territories, Kunst-Werke Berlin KW Institute of Contemporary Art, Berlin (2004).