Priyanka Basu’s article “Between Past and Present in Tuni Chatterji’s Okul Nodi” relates the layers of archival audio, ambient sound, and vistas of landscape in Los Angeles–based filmmaker Tuni Chatterji’s documentary Okul Nodi (Endless River, 2012) to the interconnectedness of landscape, history, and culture in Bengal. Chatterji’s lyrical film stitches together luminous shots of Majhis, men who row boats along Bangladeshi rivers and traditionally sing Bhatyali music (a genre of song closely tied to the riverine landscape), with clips of interviews with musicians, anthropologists, historians, and archivists about the genre. Unpacking the filmmaker’s specific experimental and “ethnographic” approach, Basu traces the aural and imagistic formations with which Okul Nodi speaks to the history of archiving this music genre, pre- and post-Partition aesthetics in India and Bangladesh, issues of experimental documentary and ecocinema, and poetic linkages made across vast distances between the boatman’s song and the region’s diaspora. 

Basu’s article was published in the Moving Image Review & Art Journal (MIRAJ) in 2022. She will be incorporating the research for this article into a book project on contemporary experimental and artists’ film. 

Priyanka Basu teaches modern and contemporary Art History at the University of Minnesota Morris. Basu’s writing has been published in journals including Third Text and Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics and in several edited volumes, such as Edinburgh German Yearbook 9: Archive and Memory in German Literature and Visual Culture (Camden House, 2015), Constructing Race on the Borders of Europe: Ethnography, Anthropology, and Visual Culture, 1850–1930 (Bloomsbury, 2021), and Decapitated Economies, forthcoming from K. Verlag and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt. She has been the recipient of fellowships and awards including from the Getty Research Institute, the DAAD, and the Fulbright Program. Her current research is on contemporary experimental and artists’ films that use ethnographic and archival methods as a way to critically engage anthropological and colonial histories. Among her current projects is the workshop Un-/Learning Archives in the Age of the Sixth Extinction (in collaboration with Steve Rowell) for the Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s The Whole Life: An Archive Project. She holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Southern California.