By Sjoerd Kloosterhuis

Pallavi Paul has loved books ever since she was a child. This explains why the video-artist started her scientific career with a study of literary science. A career that then took her on to a Master in mass communication and an M.Phil. in film studies. Pallavi Paul is currently combining her work as an artist with a Ph.D in film studies at the prestigious School of Arts and Aesthetics of the JNU University in New Delhi.
Since starting her bachelor in literature science, Pallivi Paul has always been interested in the power of language and its possible abuse. This interest is evident in the artist’s choice of topic. In fact, Paul’s videos and installations are mainly studies into the potential of language to form social identities. In other words, how language can influence the consciousness of an individual to such an extent that he does not feel that he belongs to a certain group and does not want to be treated as such by others. Paul focuses primarily on experiments with the art of story-telling, poetry and time-related experiences.

In principle, Pallavi Paul’s films are based on documents, so they seem to be about non-fictional topics. Paul is always searching for the subtle distinction between the reality of the document and actual reality. By searching precisely for this small difference, the artist tries to create a laboratory in which the borders between fantasy, resistance, politics and history are tested. The artist is more interested in the operation and disruption of certain processes, rather than in their continuity. This is why Paul's work involves searching for new insights and explanations that make it possible to break through one-sided stories. To strengthen the process, she opts to edit her films from different perspectives. Because of this, Pallavi Paul's films are rather poetic in nature, with images and pieces of written text that are supplemented, alternately, with spoken text, music or silence.

Pallavi Paul’s most recent work, The Dreams of Cynthia (2017), is based on a poem with the same title, from the writer and film-maker Anish Ahluwalia. The film follows the inner life of Cynthia, portrayed as a literary character, a measure of time, a form of experience and a landscape. Cynthia is witness to the lives of two people, a executioner and a (trans-sexual) artist. Their lives in a small village in northern India are interwoven with a shared history of work, violence and death.

The Dreams of Cynthia is three screen film installation which for exhibition purposes will be shown as a single channel.

Edited from original text by Kirstin Winking.