Cinema of Prayoga: Indian Experimental Film and Video 1913-2006

‘Prayōga’ is a Sanskrit word, which loosely translates as ‘experiment’ but can also mean ‘representation’ and ‘practice’. Coined by film historian Amrit Gangar, the term ‘cinema of prayōga’ defines “the eternal quest, [the] continuing process in time and space” central to artists’ film and video.

Cinema of Prayoga is a unique touring exhibition of artists’ film and video work from India; making available for the first time in the UK this rich and unseen history. Moving from the birth of Indian cinema with the fantastic films of D.G. Phalke, to the inventive and playful work produced under the government’s Films Division in the 1960s, the programme also incorporates recent films, from finely crafted dream like reveries mixing fact and fiction to the latest examples of internationally shown video art. The tour introduces a unique perspective on Indian culture and identity through historic and contemporary work. These works show the vitality and diversity of modern India in a way never before seen in the UK.

Over the past three years (London) has worked closely with its partner organisation Filter (Mumbai) to establish the Experimenta festival in Mumbai and Delhi, providing a platform for international artists’ film and video in India. During this period they have explored a rich vein of visual-arts based work that despite the huge popularity of Indian cinema remains relatively unknown. This project brings a comprehensive selection of innovative work from outside of ‘Bollywood’ film that India is traditionally known for. These works trace a history of personal film and video free from the constraints of the film industry and drawing on a broader array of the arts from folk tales to poetry and music to dance, as well as myths and fantasy. Cinema of Prayoga reflects the little known and diverse worlds of historic and contemporary India.

Cinema of Prayoga is an ICO touring project, curated by Brad Butler and Karen Mirza of supported by the Arts Council of England and the British Council.

Accompanying the Cinema of Prayoga programmes and national tour will be a publication:

Cinema of Prayoga: Indian Experimental Film and Video 1913-2006

Thank you to:

Mr K.S. Sasidharan (Director, National Film Archives of India), Amrit Gangar, Johan Pijnappel, Shai Heredia, Tanya Singh, Stuart Comer (Tate Modern), Arts Council of England and the British Council.

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