Karthik Pandian wins Creative Capital Award for experimental film project

Karthik Pandian and Mike Forcia.

Assistant Professor Karthik Pandian, recipient of a Creative Capital Award, is producing a film with Indigenous activist Mike Forcia. Photo by Yolanda Yang

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Karthik Pandian, assistant professor of Art, Film, and Visual Studies, was named a recipient of this year’s Creative Capital Awards. Fifty winning projects will receive up to $50,000 in direct funding, as well as career development and networking services.

“Creative Capital believes that funding the creation of new work by groundbreaking artists is vital to the vibrancy of our culture, society, and our democracy,” said Christine Kuan, Creative Capital president and executive director, in a statement. “We are dedicated to supporting artists who are pushing boundaries and asking challenging questions — especially now when new ideas are critical to imagining our future.”

Pandian is “honored and delighted” to win a Creative Capital Award and looks forward to developing his film project “amidst the inspiration, wisdom, and camaraderie of the other awardees,” he said.

The film project, “Lucid Decapitation,” is produced in collaboration with Indigenous activist Mike Forcia and an ensemble of musicians, dancers, media workers, and activists in the Twin Cities. The project, which challenges the claim on space and time by the colonial monuments of Christopher Columbus, interweaves Indigenous prophecy, Black music, and mythological film.

“At the heart of the film is a search for forms that can hold and reanimate the revolutionary energy which I have felt coursing through artists and organizers in the Twin Cities, especially Mike Forcia, who I feel lucky to call a friend and collaborator now,” Pandian said. “Shooting 16mm film of the minomin [wild rice] harvest on the Bad River Reservation where he grew up was a profoundly spiritual experience, containing knowledge we believe can help get us through the many layers of catastrophe we find ourselves in now.”

Over the last six months, Pandian has put together an ensemble of Native, Black, and Brown activists, musicians, dancers, and media workers for a public performance commissioned by Midway Contemporary Art set to take place at the Minnesota State Capitol on April 23. Forcia and others who participated in the June 2020 toppling of the Columbus monument at the Minnesota State Capitol will participate in the storytelling portion of the event.

Creative Capital, a nonprofit organization founded in 1999, is dedicated to funding artists, amplifying their work, and fostering sustainable artistic careers. The organization has awarded grants to 680 innovative projects from more than 834 artists since its founding. It is dedicated to diversity, with more than 75 percent of recent awardees being Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, or artists of color that represent a wide range of age groups, artistic disciplines, and regions.

“These artists demonstrate, with urgency and power, the many ways creative practice not only engages the world, but endeavors to shape it,” said Aliza Shvarts, Creative Capital director of Artists Initiatives. The 2022 awardee cohort is comprised of more than 90 percent Asian, Black, Indigenous, and Latinx artists.