The Annotated “Gujarat and the Sea” Exhibition
The Annotated “Gujarat and the Sea” Exhibition is a collateral project within the larger body of work around the Indian Ocean, entitled “Wharfage” (2009-13) which has included over the years a radio event, several books and a film. “Boat Modes” (2009-12) dealt with the modalities of maritime life on ships and in ports between UAE, Southern Iran, India and Somalia, using photographs, texts and film based on mobile phone videos made by sailors.
CAMP sees this work as a kind of historical intervention on the same subject. Their installation is a critique of the exhibition «Gujarat and the Sea» that took place in 2010 in the port town of Mandvi and travelled to Ahmedabad and Surat, in Gujarat, India. The exhibition brought together around 80 high quality digital reproductions of maps, photographs, and objects, mainly coming from prestigious British institutions (the British Library collection, the UK National Maritime Museum) and private collections, with licensed permission to be shown only over three months. Organized by a well-known Gujarati cultural group, with a British curator, a Kutch-based NGO partner, and financial support from the local government, the project obviously had multinational interests and conveyed a nostalgic representation of a past golden maritime era.
Having conducted research on contemporary Gujarati seafaring activity, CAMP’s intention was to highlight that many more layers of this story can unfold, including the fact that boat ownership has shifted from dominantly Hindu trader communities to Muslim sailor ones. In this collage work, CAMP is literally annotating, cropping, layering, and extending “Gujarat and the Sea” in order to create a debate, bringing a contemporary and anticolonial perspective. The work offers a comment on the production of images within art history, and edits the official historiography proposed by the quoted exhibition: the peculiar frames designed for the work mimic the brackets of a quote. CAMP’s use of unauthorized copies of the exhibition is consistent with the pirate spirit present in most of their works.
CAMP is an artistic collective that started working as a group in 2007, initially consisting of Shaina Anand (filmmaker and artist), Sanjay Bhangar (software programmer) and Ashok Sukumaran (architect and artist).
« CAMP’s “raison d’être” is that it produces and sustains long duration and sometimes large-scale artistic work. Its projects over the past five years have shown how deep technical experimentation and artistic form can meet. »
CAMP’s projects closely trace global phenomena: ships, CCTV, the emotional state of workers and guards, phone leaks, cinematic, digital and energetic media; within long-term research and collaborative fieldwork, which creates a real intimacy with their material brought to evolve in different shapes, and thus a clearly politically committed stance.
CAMP is also committed within the video and film worlds through larger projects such as Pad.ma (Public Acces Digital Media Archive: an ongoing online archival project, centered around video as a medium of documentation, collection, argumentation and exchange), fellowships for young filmmakers, an Indian cinema archive, and their own screening program organized on their roof top terrace in Bombay.