A Box of His Own

Yudi Sewraj

1997, 20:00 minutes, colour


A Box of His Own tells the story of a man, who has a dream. His mother interprets the dream as a message from his ancestors calling him back to the place where he was born. He visits family that he has never met and collects images on videotape. His descriptions change depending on who he writes to. To his friend Stephen he talks about how his relatives are trying to find him a wife; to his mother he complains about the climate and food; and to his girlfriend Andrea, the climate is warm but not uncomfortable and the food is excellent. After only a few weeks, he becomes engaged to a woman, after meeting her only once. He writes home to tell everyone...
When he returns, he constructs a box in the centre of his living room. The inside of the box resembles a "peep show closet". Upon entering, there is a vinyl chair which faces the door and a video monitor suspended directly above it. When he sits, video images from a television suspended above his head, are reflected in a mirror, mounted on the inside of the door. The images float in front of him and like a dream, it isn't long before his mind starts to wander and he forgets why he built the box in the first place.

"A Box of His Own follows Sewraj as he returns to Guyana for the first time in twenty years. This part of the tape is a video diary, full of bright colors and Sewraj’s elated descrip- tions of food, the humid weather, and the tapping of rain on the tin roof. When Sewraj returns to Montreal, the tape shifts tone abruptly. The colors give way to gray; the rolling, verdant landscape gives way to the perpendiculars of his sterile apartment. Back in Montreal, the artist builds the box of the title: a tiny room with a door, a chair, a video monitor behind the lone viewer’s head, and a mirror in which he can gaze at the reflected images of his ancestral land. The tape concludes in fast rewind, in effect reversing the visit to the homeland and deconstructing the box." - Laura U. Marks and Dana Polan, The Skin of the Film

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Critical Writing

The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses
by Laura U. Marks. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2000.