Concrete and shadows : documenting Chandigarh

Gannon, Rachel (2016) Concrete and shadows : documenting Chandigarh. In: Shaping the view : understanding landscape through illustration; 10 - 11 Nov 2016, Edinburgh, U.K.. (Unpublished)


This submission proposes the presentation of a practice led project. At the centre of this project is a recent research trip to Chandigarh, India. In August 2015, I was awarded the Reportager Award for documentary and reportage illustration for a project called ‘Frontiers’ which looked at those areas of the UK that we could classify as contemporary frontiers; particularly the docks of the South East coast. It cast a poetic eye over the structures that exist in these spaces – recording how are these borders are constructed, signposted, policed, managed and maintained. The Reportager Award provided the opportunity to expand on this research by providing funding for travel and a new body of work. Chandigarh was selected as it enabled me to further research both urban landscapes and borderlands. Chandigarh is India’s only planned modernist city. Designed by Le Corbusier in 1950, it is one of the world’s most ambitious urban experiments. It feels as if Modernism has been literally dragged onto the broad plains of northern India. Entering Chandigarh is a paradoxical experience, a mix of spatially overwhelming reality and an Indian city in the potential mode. Coming from Europe this city feels at once uncannily familiar and yet entirely foreign. It is in the truest sense a liminal urban landscape. This projects draws upon my earlier research into the relationship between the illustrative impulse, mediated form and the individual object in space. Alongside more conventional 2D reportage illustration the output for this project is a series of objects that document the location. This is a move away form the mediated form (either print or screen) and the more predictable output for work produced in an illustrative context and presents a new vision for documentary illustration, that of the individual object. Drawing upon anthropological and archaeological traditions these objects are able to contain meaning that the image cannot – symbolic resonance, material function and uniqueness.

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