The Pandi Story
Session led by Maria-Saroja Ponnambalam and Rupali Morzaria
Thursday 20 February 2020, 7-9 PM
Trinity Square Video
121-401 Richmond Street West, Toronto
Co-presented with Workman Arts
An aspiring filmmaker from Chennai, Pandi Kumaraswamy was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after immigrating to Canada in the 1990s to start a new life. After migrating from South India to Canada, he faced stress from working at factory jobs, culture shock and isolation. Undergoing several forms of psychiatric medical treatment, Pandi committing suicide at age 35 after moving back to South India.
Using a mix of home videos, interviews with her family, letters, and animated sequences from Pandi’s last script, Maria-Saroja Ponnambalam documentary film titled Pandi (2013) explored the mysteries behind her uncle Pandi’s life and sudden death. Now in her latest work titled How We Cared (2020), Saroja returns to her late uncle Pandi’s archives to consider the multiple systems of care in his life, over which he had varying levels of autonomy. Working collaboratively with graphic artist Rupali Morzaria, she interprets three sites of care in an expanded schematic: psychiatric healthcare, healing in nature, and autonomy at home.
In this session, Saroja works through the process behind these two iterations of the Pandi story. Sharing and contextualizing scenes from the original film, Saroja discusses how the stories about her uncle Pandi’s life and death changed throughout the process of making, editing and circulating the film. In the second part, Saroja and Rupali will work through all the research that went into making the new work and discuss the experimental sound, selection of visual elements and approach to collage used. Please join us for this session as a part of the exhibition “Architecture after the Asylum” which features How We Cared (2020), on view from 17 January – 22 February 2020 at Trinity Square Video.
Saroja Ponnambalam is an Ontario-based filmmaker with latinx and south-asian roots well-versed in critical geography, participatory media and documentary. Her independent arts practice involves working with a variety of media within the spectrum of documentary – animation, photographs, home video, and interviews. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Geography from University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production from York University.
Rupali Morzaria is a Toronto-based multidisciplinary designer and film programmer. Her creative practice is rooted in traditional forms of graphic communication and print media, repurposing the ‘dazzle’ of consumerist culture to critically engage with what is often left unsaid. Rupali’s fascination turned obsession with Indian Cinema has manifested itself in the ongoing film series called Sanghum at the Royal Theater, and an upcoming film program of Indian experimental and animated shorts with Pleasure Dome.
Architecture after the Asylum is a curatorial project that presents an open dialogue about asylums, psychiatric hospitals and mental health institutions that flows through sanity and insanity. The exhibition runs from 17 January – 22 February 2020 at Trinity Square Video. It is generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council – Conseil des arts de l’Ontario