the gaze as a protest

ujjwal kanishka utkarsh

My PhD project lies in the intersection of observational filmmaking and the act of protest. For me, the observational form is not geared towards objectivity but rather as a sensorial experiential approach with an intent to make the invisible, visible.  In this case, the position of the auteur or the observer becomes critical. For instance, it is important for me that I do NOT claim ‘their position’ or voice. And, while being an outsider, to not just look ‘at them’ but rather attempt to ‘be with’.


In this presentation, I will further explore this position and see if in trying to be with and be adjacent to an ‘other’ while observing, can we evoke the possibility of a multiplicity of narratives? Can then various realities be acknowledged without being reduced to singular notions of truth?


The camera can’t replicate the human eye, but rather could be directed in it’s gaze, the position of the camera thus gets defined by the auteur. It then becomes rather important and significant to articulate this position of observation and hence the observer itself. The question is rather: while being outside, can someone be close to the other? It is not for being ‘them’ or claiming ‘their voice’, or position, but rather ‘being with’ or adjacent to. Tina Campt defines it as , ' recognizing the disparity between your position and theirs and working to address it.’ 


Through this presentation I would like to explore further this position could mean. This I intend to do by first setting up the conceptual theoretical framework and then looking at some of my attempts at observing protests. While some of the material generated from the earlier attempts were interesting, I decided not to make films out of them, because I felt that I got carried away with the spectacle. Using some sequences from these failed attempts, the presentation would be an attempt to see what this position and that gaze could mean in practice.