dates.sites: Project Cinema City, Bombay/Mumbai

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dates.sites presents a timeline of the city of Bombay/Mumbai in the 20th century, anchored to its most adored public institution: cinema. Why this timeline when it is now generally accepted that dates are rigid and memories porous – and that the latter needs to be prioritized over the former? How does one create a timeline that is neither cast in stone nor vulnerable to the charge of 'manufacturing a past'? How does one evolve a timeline for a geographically defined entity in the context of its popular cultures that are defined by specific processes of production and distribution? These were some of the challenges that confronted the making of this volume.

The volume is divided into sections by decades, and the decades in turn are separated by a series of calendars designed by artists, filmmakers, and designers. The text is a stitching together of found information and received knowledge from formal/informal, acknowledged/discarded sources. It is layered with images from either the public domain or personal archives. The relationship between text and image, far from being umbilical, is playfully associative. Just as contemporary readings are incorporated with dated markers in the written text, in the image text too, contemporary works are inserted alongside period images –and these incorporations and insertions appear with detectable joint-marks, in order to snap the spell of 'snippets from the past'. dates.sites thus becomes a deliberation on the contemporary with the aid of a speculated upon and collated past.

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About the Author:

Madhusree Dutta, the curator of Project Cinema City, is a filmmaker and executive director of Majlis. She curated the cultural component at World Social Forum, 2004 and 2007, and has conceived and realized various courses on cultural literacy and art interfaces for both academic institutions and social movements. Her publications include The Nation, the State and Indian Identity (co-editor, 1996), and Sites and Practices: An Exercise in Cultural Pedagogy (editor, 2006).

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One of the outcomes of a artistic-cum-archival project called Project Cinema City conducted by the arts intiative Majlis, dates.sites takes this fundamental connection between the city and cinema as the basis for a decade-by-decade account of events that might constitute a 'cinematic history' of 20th century Bombay/Mumbai.dates.sites is a real goldmine of stories, allowing itself the luxury of the suggestive anecdote: the sparkling, free-floating detail unbound by the ponderous footnote. (Trisha Gupta Urban Studies)

A useful compendium of facts, dates and significant moments compiled and designed by Madhushree Dutta and Shilpa Gupta, the book emerges out of Cinema City, a collaborative arts and archival project involving artists, architects, filmmakers, commentators, cityphiles and cinephiles... What emerges out of this seemingly playful but substantive timeline is not only a history of Bombay cinema but innumerable micro-narratives― factoids, anecdotes, observations and comments― that shape and texture the larger story. (Shohini Ghosh Economic and Political Weekly)

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