Contracts of making, viewing and listening: Researching in and through films

  • Ram Krishna Ranjan HDK-Valand - University of Gothenburg


This paper tells the story of Contracts of making, viewing and listening, a 17-minute film that has emerged as part of my ongoing doctoral study in Artistic Research in Film. Taking the Bengal Famine of 1943 as a site-event, the doctoral research focuses on investigating and experimenting with epistemologies and ontologies of expressions emanating from a space of subalternity, especially Dalits. Contracts of making, viewing and listening can be seen as an artistic intervention into Satyajit Ray’s Distant Thunder – made in 1973, the film tells the story of effects of the Famine in rural Bengal through the eyes of a Brahmin couple. The artistic intervention was geared towards both critically reading the film from the lens of Dalit consciousness, and to explore ways of writing that critique in the language of the film itself. By retracing the journey of Contracts of making, viewing and listening, this paper focuses on how research is performed in and through the medium of film in this intervention, its multiple conceptual/material contingencies, and ultimately what it proposes in the context of artistic research.

Author Biography

Ram Krishna Ranjan, HDK-Valand - University of Gothenburg

Ram Krishna Ranjan (born 1985, India) is a practice-based researcher and filmmaker. He situates his practice at the intersection of research, pedagogy and image-based artistic work. His educational background is in Economics, Media and Cultural Studies, Film and Fine Art. He is currently doing his PhD in artistic research at HDK-Valand, University of Gothenburg. Taking the Bengal Famine of 1943 as a site-event, his practice-based PhD aims to further and experiment with epistemologies and ontologies of expressions that emerge from the space of subalternity and investigate the possibilities and limits of it in film practices.

His longstanding areas of interests are decoloniality, memory and nation, and the intersectionality of caste, class, and gender. Through his moving-images based practice, he tries to build conversations around place-specific issues of social, economic and political justice. His latest work ‘Contracts of making, viewing and listening’ has been exhibited at Research Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019 and ‘View India’, Landskrona Museum, Sweden.