- Artist Bani Abidi
- Title Death at a 30 Degree Angle
- Date 2012
- Medium Double-channel video
- Duration 15 minutes
Death at a 30 Degree Angle is a multimedia installation composed of video, architectural drawings and clay maquettes. It constructs a fictional narrative about the commissioning of a monumental sculpture by a small-time politician. Power, self-aggrandizement, sycophancy and paranoia are some of the central themes explored through the creation of this portrait.
Set in the outskirts of New Delhi in the present, the film unfolds within the atelier of Ram Sutar, a sculptor renowned for his grandiose statues of politicians and national heroes. The central visual motif of the film is an unfinished 30 foot tall statue that stands in the centre of Sutar’s studio. The politician who has commissioned the work is a man of small stature who is obsessed with the production of this representation of himself. He worries about the possibility of the statue decaying or collapsing after his death. The film portrays a series of discussions and negotiations between the politician, his cronies and the sculptor about the design of the statue. Sutar and his assistants try to accommodate each complaint by carrying out multiple adjustments, each more drastic than the last.
By exploring the psychology of and satirizing an archetypal political figure familiar to residents of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, this project will resonate with audiences across these regions. This character is at times a dictator, at others an autocrat, a feudal landlord or even a mere local politician. A range of sycophants nurture his sense of invincibility and keep him in power, allowing him to rule over a citizenry for whom he is, at the best of times, a nagging presence in the daily newspapers.