Pratap Rughani explores the ‘documentary moment’ as a way of bridging worlds which has at heart inter-cultural communication. This TrAIN conversation includes an award-winning film, Playing Model Soldiers (Channel 4) followed by discussion.
The potential for documentary film to act as an arena in which people of radically different perspectives come into relation to each other is a compelling and under-explored area of documentary practice. Pratap is interested in examining and creating newer forms of inter-cultural documentary film that cultivate the kinds of pluralized spaces through which broader understandings can evolve. How subjectivity re-positions documentary claims to representation, reveals a matrix of stories rather than seeking single narrative closure.
Pratap Rughani’s documentary practice embraces a range of editorial, commissioning and exhibition environments. Much of his early work is in observational broadcast documentary modes, with twenty-five films for BBC 2 and Channel 4. More recent films explore the greater aesthetic freedoms of independent commissions for the British Council, or research-supported projects designed for exhibition in gallery spaces such as Modern Art Oxford. The dynamics of inter-cultural communication are central, conceiving documentary as a crucible in which people of radically different perspectives, cultures and politics come into relation, for example with the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of the new South Africa. He is Course Director of MA Documentary Film at London College of Communication, UAL.
The unique power of what might be called the ‘documentary charge’ and its relationship to ‘reality’ is a key research area.
How the ethics of production decisions are made visible and interrogated, including the relationship of ethics and aesthetics, for example in creating and analysing images in the aftermath of atrocity of trauma are an abiding interest.
Essential in any post-colonial context is the recovery of voices at the margins and understanding their centrality. Philosophically, Pratap is interested in how exposure of the conditions of production and subjectivities of documentary teams shapes the ‘observed’ event – configuring realities in these moments of ‘touch’.
What makes a transnational practice or perspective in art or curating? TrAIN Conversations are informal conversations with invited artists and curators, followed by round-table discussions with the participants.
Speakers have included Gayatri Sinha, curator and critical writer on art, based in New Delhi, Paul Domela, curator of the Liverpool Biennale, Ingrid Pollard, photographer based in London, Judy Freya Sibayan, artist and curator based in Manila, Charles Esche, curator and Director of the Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven; and Jonathan Martin, filmmaker based in London.
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I studied in the UK (Edinburgh and London) and I have worked in the UK, the USA, and in Europe, where I am now at the University of Amsterdam. Following my PhD I have written extensively on art in Britain in the nineteenth and early twentieth century with two books, Painting Women (1994) and Beyond the Frame: Feminism and Visual Culture (2000) along with exhibitions such as ‘The Edwardian Era’ (co-curated 1987).
Find out more about Professor Deborah Cherry