Photograph from September 11

Archives at the National Centre for Biological Sciences
Art – Archives Engagement

Photograph from September 11

Anima Goyal

3:00 – 7:00 PM 
Aug 4-5 2022
Archives amphitheatre, ELC Basement




The photograph halted them in life,
and now keeps them
above the earth toward the earth.

(Wisława Szymborska)

The exhibition is a two-part ‘circumstance’ that takes on the form of a constantly changing reading room, with a final display in the last two days where the room dissolves and takes on the form of the archival box. The two physical locations, the room and the box, represent two different states of time that a document goes through before and after entering an archive. The making-of and the access to a document in the archive is codified and performed in certain standardised ways specific to the archive. My work intervenes into this structure of an archive at an institution, and brings the intimacy of reading that occurs in a domestic space, making different kinds of reading possible. I annotate and write on the field notes of Ravi Sankaran that take on the form of intimate diaries and lose their identity as an archival object that inherently asks for distance.

When we read, we are simultaneously writing a parallel narrative in our mind. I invite the audience to leave notes and re-annotate the piles of documents that are added everyday. In the constantly changing reading room, we have an asynchronous conversation and co-read together.

The original text used in the documents come from the research field notes from Ravi Sankaran Papers in the archives at NCBS. Sankaran was an ornithologist who worked with the conservation of several endangered species of birds in India. At the archives, I was especially interested in his field notes about floricans, where he studied their habitat, threats, beha or and eating patterns. over a long period of time Floricans are incredibly private and territorial; they were difficult to observe and could only be seen during the mating period of six months during the time Sankaran was alive. The rest of the six months of the migratory period, no one knew what they did or where exactly they stayed. I am interested in those missing six months, the sort of life that was lived in those six months.

About the artist:
Anima Goyal is an artist based at the border of Haryana and Punjab. She studied painting for a few years and is about to start her masters in Fine Art at Städelschule in 2022. Her practice is rooted in domestic spaces, translation, and the experience of a language as a space of inhabiting. She had been working with the format of bookmaking for the past year and a half, which has turned into an interest in the very act of reading and its relationship with image. Material histories also form a critical part of her process where the papers or fabrics used tend to be connected to chance encounters with an object, as those encounters make conversations possible.


I would like to thank Venkat Srinivasan and Paribartana Mohanty for being the advisors of this project and helping me through various stages in the past two months. To my sister, Himanshi, and to Sanjna, Ravi, our resident printer 7612, Malavika, Aditi, and everyone else at the archive for their presence, support and conversations.