Nandita Raman is currently finalizing her MFA thesis show, Remembering Absent Meaning, which opens on Thursday, February 2. Born 1980, Varanasi, India, she studied Graphic Communications before directing documentaries and managing the production of international documentaries and ad films.
Patricia: How long have you been developing RAM?
Nandita: I have been interested in the effects of temporality from the beginning of school in 2010. My interest in memory is an extension of this. I started working on RAM after spring 2011.
Patricia: You’ve outlined a visual structure that clearly begins with the psyche. It then cycles through accumulation, lucidity, passage, absence.
Nandita: You as the expositor, as a retainer of all your past experiences and conditioning bring these words, these meanings to the images. It’s fascinating for me to see single words, distilled from all the possible interpretations, appropriated to each image. There is a loss that occurs in this process of articulation. I’m interested in that.
Patricia: What fascinates you about that loss?
Nandita: Well, it’s a constant contradiction that becomes a part of our existence. It’s our instinct to articulate, to pick out sentences from the mass of thought. If we don’t do that, we find ourselves in an extremely internal place without much communication with the external world around us. At the same time, when we do articulate, these few words become symbols of the entire thought, they start to represent one thought process, or place of thought. That’s really fascinating to me.
Patricia: I’m totally infatuated with Thread, Cellophane Warp Around Glass (amorphous solid). I love looking at it. I see it as a contemplation on the fragility of opaqueness. A sort of damaged opaqueness, that is t e n s e l y hanging by a thread.
Nandita: In one of his talks, Vikram Seth mentioned his fascination with glass, especially its high viscosity; the property of being difficult to stir. This struck me. Two weeks ago, I realized that glass was an appropriate material to explore the amorphous nature of thought prior to articulation. The nature of glass, neither solid nor liquid, remains one of the unresolved questions in physics.
Patricia: There’s a parallel there, with memory also not being about total clarity or total knowledge.
Nandita: Yes, I agree. It’s true, there’s a parallel. It’s sort of an interim space, which becomes almost like a reminder that memory is not all that there is. That words are not all that there is. For example, glass—the realization that it’s not solid or liquid, it’s neither. It doesn’t fit in either/or.
Patricia: Do you have photographic rituals?
Nandita: I’m usually not a ritualistic person. I like to change from one day to the next. Mostly, I like to read until some clear thoughts on visuals start to surface. These could be about images that I shot already or things that I would like to shoot.
Patricia: How do you revive long-term projects? Do you need some distance or total absorption?
Nandita: I think I work slowly. I need time. I need to revisit the same place a few times to know what I want to do with it. So yes, distance and suspensions have helped foster projects.
Patricia: Did something come up while working on RAM that you were just not expecting?
Nandita: Mirrors—that was a big thing that came in. I had a clear idea about how I wanted to use and sequence photographs, but I felt like there was a thread missing somewhere. When I thought of mirrors as part of the installation, it all came together for me. And it’s so funny. I’ve been working with mirrors since first semester, but not once did I think of using them like this.
On View: February 3-4 | Friday–Saturday | 12:00–5:00 pm