The Poetics of Fragility: Videocontemplation, Cultural Inquiry & Artistic Practice

23May2017 24May2017


Film Screening & Master Class with Lata Mani and Nicolás Grandi organized by Sudha Rajagopalan hosted by NICA and ASCA

Screening of Nicolás Grandi & Lata Mani, The Poetics of Fragility, 2016, 63 mins.

The Poetics of Fragility, Nicolás Grandi & Lata Mani, A Transmedia Project 2016
Film Artist Book Website

23 May, 10-12.30 Screening, discussion, Q&A (Open for public, along with participants of master class, for whom it is compulsory). Moderator: Jaap Kooijman. Place t.b.a.

The Poetics of Fragility (HD 63 minutes) is a kaleidoscopic bilingual exploration of the texture, vitality and aesthetics of fragility. It interweaves stories of bodily frailty with optical vignettes of nature’s delicacy to reclaim fragility as intrinsic to existence, not something to be bemoaned or overcome.

Shot in the San Francisco Bay Area and Buenos Aires the film features internationally renowned scholar-activist Angela Davis, the acclaimed playwright and critic Cherrie Moraga, Nora Cortiñas, the inspiring founding member of Madres de Plaza de Mayo Linea Fundadora, actor-dancer Greg Manalo, feminist performance artists Thao P. Nguyen and Martha Rynberg, theater scholar Jisha Menon, healer Christopher Miles, creative writer Xochitl M. Perales, actor María Laura Cáccamo and the young trombone talent, Jasim Perales.

The Poetics of Fragility is conceived as a “videocontemplation;” a form that Nicolás Grandi and Lata Mani have been developing to explore the audiovisual medium as a sensuous tool for social inquiry with a philosophical impulse. The visually arresting and formally plural film unfolds through stories that build on and amplify each other. Moments of emotional intensity alternate with speculative calm, dramatic narration with poetry and critical inquiry into prevailing understandings of fragility. 

The artist book - script, process notes, critical essays, artistic responses - extends the film's poetics and preoccupations in print duration. It is conceived as a pedagogical artifact and aesthetic project in its own right. The website is imagined as a community platform that will host the film, supporting materials and curated creative responses to the film, sonic, graphic, audiovisual, literary. 

"The Poetics of Fragility is a subtle and tender message of our condition as embrace of poetic contemplation on the nature of suffering. Wonderful work!" Lourdes Portillo, Academy Award winning filmmaker

Trailer @:

Nicolás Grandi 

is a Buenos Aires based filmmaker, interdisciplinary artist and educator. He has been teaching film theory and practice in universities, schools and community workshops in Argentina and India and has cofounded several collectives working at the intersection of film, poetry, music and sculpture. He currently runs transdisciplinary art labs. His films which include La Pasión Según Ander (2005) and Simon Decouvre (2000) have been screened widely at film festivals around the world.

Lata Mani 

is a feminist historian, cultural critic, contemplative writer and filmmaker. She has published on a broad range of issues, from feminism and colonialism, to illness, spiritual philosophy and contemporary politics.  She is the author of The Integral Nature of Things: Critical Reflections on the Present (Routledge, 2013), Interleaves: Ruminations on Illness and Spiritual Life (Yoda, 2011), Sacred Secular: Contemplative Cultural Critique, (Routledge, 2009) and Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India (University of California Press, 1989).

Previous film collaborations between Nicolás Grandi and Lata Mani: Here-Now (2012); Nocturne I and Nocturne II (2013); De Sidere 7 (2014); The Earth on its Axis, We in our Skin: The Tantra of Embodiment (2015). More at

Master class (1 ECTS): We Together Thinking with Form

Nicolás Grandi & Lata Mani

24 May, 10-1 pm., place t.b.a.

Can the camera be a tool for philosophical inquiry? How might mystery be restored to word and image in context of the transactional instrumentalism that characterizes neoliberal excess? What forms and genres facilitate an opening out of perception?  Given the simultaneous avowal and disavowal of matter and of embodiment in our time what might we propose as constituting a hermeneutic of the senses, or to put it another way, an aesthetics of the sensible?

In this seminar, we reflect on our collaborative experiments with art as a philosophical practice of sociocultural inquiry. Our work together began with videopoems (Here-Now, Nocturne I & II) then developed into a form we name “videocontemplation.” More recently it has expanded to include transmedia transcreations of our videocontemplations; first as filmmakers’ artist books (De Sidere 7 & The Poetics of Fragility) and more recently as a web-based exploration also ( Working with the same material in several mediums has challenged us to think about montage and temporality in context of each iteration and as well the varying relations of image/text/spectator/reader proposed by the work in its different forms. Questions of sense perception have always been central to our consideration. Cross-media experiments have expanded the formal possibilities open to us in deepening our engagement with the kaleidoscopic nature of perception as an evolving, non-uniform and plural process of sense-making. The readings assigned for the seminar trace our thinking and process. Copies of the artist books will be available at the session for perusal.

The seminar is conceived as an interactive session in which participants will be actively engaged. We encourage participants to bring questions from their own research as they pertain to the issues posed by the materials.

Introduction 20 minutes; Screening of De Sidere 7 (38 minutes); short break; discussion.

In order to earn 1 EC participants should attendthe Master Class, the screening of The Poetics of Fragility and the following readings:

  • Lata Mani, “Writing the Present,” Economic and Political Weekly, December 5 2015, 24-27. The videopoems discussed in the article can also been seen at
  • Rosa Linda Fregoso, “As if I were touching the film with my eyes, with my whole body,” Nicolás Grandi and Lata Mani, De Sidere 7, 2015, 79-80.
  • Nicolás Grandi and Lata Mani, Invitation to a Screening: De Sidere 7, Nicolás Grandi and Lata Mani, De Sidere 7, 2015, 92-97.
  • All the material on (especially project description, process notations; synergies textual, sonic, visual and dialogical)

Registration: Please register for the master class by sending an e-mail to Eloe Kingma at, including your program and affiliation.


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Published by  ASCA