SIKH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2009:
Nineteen Eighty-Four and the Via Dolorosa Project
Directors/Producers: The Singh Twins
This semi autobiographical art documentary film explores the making of and inspiration behind Nineteen Eighty Four - one of the most celebrated paintings produced by internationally acclaimed, Contemporary British-Sikh artists, The Singh Twins, which depicts the Indian Government’s military attack on the Sikhs’ holiest shrine – The Golden Temple in Amritsar in 1984 and presents a very personal perspective on what many regard as one of the most tragic and misrepresented events in modern Sikh history.
Combining archival images, video footage and details from the painting, the film reveals how what began during the Twins’ Catholic Convent school days as a spontaneous artistic response to the attack, later became a powerful vehicle for highlighting the universality of political corruption and related issues of human rights abuses surrounding 1984 – culminating in a project that sought to bring the atrocities of 1984 to a global audience by making parallels between the Sikh experience of 1984 and the Christian tradition of the Via Dolorosa or “path of pain” suffered by Jesus leading up to his crucifixion.
This short film was amongst the first to tackle what still remains a sensitive and emotional issue 25 years on and demonstrates the power of art to document history, challenge social and political opinion and reach out to people in a way that is relevant to the collective human experience.
The Singh Twins – Amrit & Rabindra Singh, are internationally acclaimed British Indian artists (painters) who are widely credited with creating a unique genre in Contemporary British Art through a pioneering development of the traditional Indian miniature painting. They have presented and exhibited their work alongside the like of Turner and Hockney and at institutions such as the Smithsonian Institution – Washington, DC, The National Gallery of Modern Art – Delhi & Mumbai, The National Gallery – London, The Peabody Museum – Salem, and the Asian Art Museum – San Francisco. Their paintings are in public and private collections worldwide, including the Government Art Collections in UK. Most recent commissions include two major public works for their home city of Liverpool, commemorating its 800th birthday in 2007 and its status as European Capital of Culture in 2008.
In 2002 they were appointed artists in residence for the Manchester Commonwealth Games and continue to be studied by academics and research students around the World. They are currently working on two commissions, one for the London Museum and the other for the Royal Ontario Museum Canada. Amongst other mainstream publications, they are featured in the National Portrait Gallery publication on portraiture, The Penguin History of Scotland and The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History. Last year they became the first recipients of the newly established Liverpool Art Prize People’s Choice Award.
Their award winning paintings in a modernized development of the Indian miniature style explore serious issues of social, political and cultural debate within a richly symbolic, narrative, decorative and witty style that challenges Eurocentric stereotyping within Contemporary Art and the perceived divide between east and west, tradition and modernity.
The Singh Twins relatively recent venture in to film making marks a new direction in their creative work - fulfilling a long-standing interest to develop their creativity, and bring the issues explored in their paintings to a much wider audience, through what they describe as the more powerful and widely accessible medium of moving imagery. In 2006 they directed and produced 1984 and the Via Dolorosa Project, and more recently in 2008 their first animation film – The Making of Liverpool.