Amshu Chukki shines a spotlight on the unseen with his solo show

Artist Amshu Chukki documents what is left unacknowledged in a movie shoot with his ongoing exhibition

Artist Amshu Chukki documents what is left unacknowledged in a movie shoot with his ongoing exhibition

There is magic in the movies and a certain sense of fascination as to what goes on behind the scenes. With his exhibition titled ‘Different Danny and Other Stories,’ Bengaluru-based artist Amshu Chukki explores what goes unnoticed in the making of those scenes.

“Whenever we talk about cinema, we discuss the narrative, theme and the film itself. With this exhibition, I try to showcase the cinematic excess that is left behind. ‘Different Danny and Other Stories,’ can be viewed in two parts — how a stuntman deciphers the landscape of a city, keeping in mind potential choreography and how residents and production managers negotiate a house as a set,” says Amshu.

Artist Amshu Chukki | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

He adds that he has been following the career of Different Danny, a stunt director in Kannada cinema for over a decade now, observing how he looks at choreography, stunts and the city as a set. “The mechanism of cinema both shows and hides the role of a stuntman. He plays the duplicate or body double; Even though he is present on the screen, he remains unseen.”

“A lot of my work is research-based and follows a certain thread of enquiry. My initial idea was to look at where cinematic moments meet in a city’s milieu and I found that in the way a stunt director thinks about the city.”

Amshu looks at the process of a recce prior to a shoot as an exploration of urban space and landscape through cinema. He talks about his documentation of houses in Bengaluru that double up as film sets and how its residents negotiate between the cinematic and domestic.

“Unlike most of us, these people wake up in the morning in their homes and after a while a crew comes over and changes the orientation of the house. In the evening they pack up and the family returns to their own life. And while they live a modular life, they are not just bystanders either; they are aware of the cinematic process. They sometimes double as extras or instruct the crew on the vantage points of the house.”

'Recce - Building' from Amshu Chukki's solo show 'Different Danny and Other Stories'

‘Recce – Building’ from Amshu Chukki’s solo show ‘Different Danny and Other Stories’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A film shoot changes a neighbor by its activity and that is one way of looking at the city or landscape — through a cinematic register.

According to Amshu, it is the shooting process that unravels on the sets of these houses and residents’ involvement in the cinematic experience that gets left behind. “This exhibition captures their experience of this space and their balance between cinema and life. I am foregrounding this aspect of cinematic excess that gets left behind.”

“The manner in which the crew lays equipment, adjusts camera angles and fix the lighting become ways of mapping architecture. There are documented in drawings and text as part of the architectural plan.”

Paintings, videos, drawings, research, installations and sculptures — all created by Amshu over a period of three years — are the result of his research and include various elements of the film world such as stunt equipment doubling as installations as well as a video on Different Danny, complete with a voiceover by the stuntman himself.

'Drawing for Wire Sculptures' from Amshu Chukki's solo show 'Different Danny and Other Stories'

‘Drawing for Wire Sculptures’ from Amshu Chukki’s solo show ‘Different Danny and Other Stories’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Amshu who studied art at MSU Baroda has been practicing since 2014 and says a lot of his work is research driven. “I work with film and video and my initial approach to work is with a documentary eye. That inquiry, work and research then lends itself to other forms of engagement — drawing, painting or sculpture — as befits my research.”

A recipient of SPACE STUDIO’s Artist’s Grant for 2021, Amshu Chukki’s solo exhibition ‘Different Danny and Other Stories’ first opened at Chatterjee & Lal, Mumbai. It will be on display at 1Shanti Road, Bengaluru till June 17.