Press Release from 26.7.2023

Word mark Gropius Bau

Pallavi Paul

How Love Moves: Prelude

The Gropius Bau is delighted to present the artist and film scholar Pallavi Paul as this year’s Artist in Residence. The prelude of her upcoming solo exhibition How Love Moves in March 2024 will be on view on the first floor of the Gropius Bau from 10 August to 14 January.
The admission is free. 

“We are continuously in the process of turning and shifting and changing, but where do we pin the question of truth in all of this?”
— Pallavi Paul

Pallavi Paul’s practice meets at the crossroads of cinema, literary cultures and political struggles. In her multidisciplinary work – spanning film, installation, performance, drawing and writing – she engages the camera as her primary tool to interrogate how spiritual, technological, political and historical regimes of “truth” are produced and sustained in public life. Focused on the tension between the textual and the cinematic document and its aesthetic manifestations, Pallavi Paul negotiates the documentary as a disruptive method to challenge archives of time, space and geography. She produces filmic work situated at the frequency between fiction and documentary by way of conjuring visual poetry through different references. They are often recomposed from news footage, YouTube digs, social media, historic sources and multilingual texts and are combined with newly shot material. While reacquainting her audience with the beginnings of cinema as a medium of magic, courageous, uncanny and spirited protagonists emerge throughout her early and recent films.
“As a filmmaker and film scholar, Pallavi Paul has opened highly imaginative entryways into the cinematic as a domain of all that is magical and what lies buried as collective subconscious while also gesturing toward complex political rifts in today’s India.”
— Natasha Ginwala, Associate Curator at Large at the Gropius Bau
Since 2020, Pallavi Paul has been exploring the expansive realm of breath not only through the singular body but through the collective as a transhistorical, transgeographical and transformative current. Observing what it means to recognise patterns of molecular colonialism, religious and racialised violence in today’s civil society, Paul turns to the act of breathing as a political, social, environmental and rhythmic refrain of life-making in times of dissent and vulnerability. During her time as the Artist in Residence at the Gropius Bau in 2023, she further deepens her research on love and its embodied counterpart – the breath – posing the unique challenge of how to generate tangible mappings of something ever-present but “invisible”.
Introducing and extending the artist’s kinetic emphasis towards love and its links to the breath and the body, How Love Moves: Prelude converges around the three-channel video installation Cynthia Ke Sapne / The Dreams of Cynthia (2017). Situated in a spatial scenography – consisting of the paper series (Out of Date, 2018–ongoing), fabric and video works (Dum, 2022, and Changing Places in the Fire, 2022) and a newly commissioned book object (Hypnagogia, 2023) – the prelude transforms the historic Schliemannsaal into a twilight space nourished by the luminosity of the moving image.
Unfolding on three screens dedicated to an executioner, a trans artist and the literary figure of Cynthia, Cynthia Ke Sapne / The Dreams of Cynthia traces their internal terrains intertwined within and beyond a small town in North India. Conversing with a contemporary Hindi poem by Anish Ahluwalia, the film uses poetry as a distillery to unravel spheres of love, eroticism and gender as well as the monetisation of death and the continuity of state violence.
The film excerpt Changing Places in the Fire is part of an ongoing video series braiding together interlinked scenarios from history, literature, philosophy, medicine and meditation practices. Bedded atop a soft display on the floor, the work influenced by Li-Young Lee’s poem of the same title from 2017 invites visitors to lean into fluid scenes of water, air and fire disrupted by body scans and newspaper articles that allude to the entanglement of the breath with the world of its making.
Circling around the question of how to extend the moving image into its space of presentation via another sensory register, the book object Hypnagogia forms a tangible response to Cynthia Ke Sapne / The Dreams of Cynthia. While embodying a growing vessel of the artist’s research – including writings, film stills, textural elements and drawings – the large publication produced in collaboration with Studio Manuel Raeder also includes transcriptions of the film’s subtitles in German and English. Imagined as a cosmic book animated by the touch and breath of visitors, it is laid in a canopy-like structure extending towards the sky and roofed by layers of ornamented fabrics called Chadar.
The public programme Six Days of Love follows the trajectory in How Love Moves: Prelude with a series of cinematic readings, conversational formats and workshops between summer 2023 and spring 2024. In intimate settings at the freely accessible areas of the Gropius Bau and the cinema, Six Days of Love invites visitors to turn to love as a field of signs beyond the normative mould, through the lens of poetry and the cinematic. The programme brings together different vantage points of writers, scientists, artists and musicians, drawing from a poem by author and activist bell hooks published in When Angels Speak of Love (2005). It circles around love as a planetary language premised on minuscule and monumental aspects of the body and the worlds it inhabits.
Pallavi Paul is a New Delhi and Berlin-based visual artist and film scholar who is the Artist in Residence at the Gropius Bau in 2023. She was a fellow of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program in 2021/2022. Paul received her PhD in Film Studies from the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her work has been exhibited at Berlinale Forum Expanded, Berlin (2022); Colomboscope Festival, Colombo (2021); IFFR, Rotterdam (2020); HKW, Berlin (2020); The Rubin Museum, New York (2019); AV Festival, Newcastle (2018, 2016); SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin (2019, 2022); Beirut Art Centre, Beirut (2018); Contour Biennale, Mechelen (2017); Tate Modern, London (2013).

Six Days of Love will kick off as part of the opening evening of How Love Moves: Prelude on 10 August with performative activations by writer, artist-curator, archivist and musician okcandice and the Gropius Bau’s Neighbour in Residence, interdisciplinary writer and poet hn. lyonga. On 11 August, a cinematic reading session will happen at the Gropius Bau cinema with Edna Bonhomme, a historian of science, writer and editor, including a sonic activation by musician and artist Ghostpoet.


Press Contact

Birgit Schapow
Presse und Kommunikation
Tel +49 30 254 86 384

A selection of images in printable resolution is available in the press section.