Artist & Work

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Shambhavi Kaul

Born in 1973, lives and works in Durham, North Carolina



Shambhavi Kaul’s film, Mount Song, weaves its way through time and experience like a gust of wind, coursing ahead, eddying, almost disappearing then surging back again. Like all good poetry, it invites and encourages any connection, any engagement, and like the great works of film from which it takes inspiration, it enchants and captivates with its sheer beauty and sense of bewilderment.


The work comprises repurposed excerpts from Hong Kong cinema of the 1970s and 1980s. A rapid transition of scenes depicts super-natural forces, acts of magic and haunted sites. The invisible energies of the elements and of particular sites are the “actors” in these scenes. Kaul’s selection of clips reflects her interest in set constructions and special effects: a cinematic language employed to convey and make cinematically legible a sense of deep attachment. The film itself raises questions of what is being re-shaped and re-articulated, as well as the very process of representational translation. Kaul’s montage follows her speculative intuition that in these films, widely distributed across America, Europe, India and beyond, something takes place outside of the easily recognized image of the “ancient East”. She explains: “I have a feeling that the eve of the global era is recorded in these films by a very particular representation of place. It is one that retrieves, from the colonial era, a kind of imagery that may be internationally understood and exchanged, but that has been updated with sci-fi elements and special effects.”