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Visual Culture in the Subcontinent
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Archives | 'Past continuous'

Archives | 'Past continuous' | Indian Photographies | Scoop.it

"For a nation that constantly references and rewrites its past, we have a shocking lack of affinity towards its documentation. As Rahman points out, all our museums are a legacy of the British need to document their conquests; prior to which, in India, it was the ruling elite or the temples that were the repositories of art or artefacts. The Indian attitude towards preservation of records is best depicted by Dayanita Singh’s 2011 photographic series File Room in which bundles of folders are piled up in tottering shelves. Fading oral traditions, given priority over written ones, have ensured there are even fewer methods of preservation open to us."

 

Photograph : Habib Rahman/Courtesy Ram Rahman. Danseuse Indrani Rahman, late 1950s, the image is now part of the New York Public Library. 

 

Text by Gyatri Jayaraman | Livemint

 

 

 
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Exhibition in Berlin | The Colonial Eye : Early Portrait Photography in India

Exhibition in Berlin | The Colonial Eye : Early Portrait Photography in India | Indian Photographies | Scoop.it

"One of the world's most comprehensive and significant collections of portrait photography from India is on exhibit for the first time. The collection was originally thought to be lost during World War II, only gradually returning to Berlin's National Museums beginning in the 1990s.
Now, around 300 photographs from the second half of the nineteenth century offer a comprehensive overview of portrait photography from the Indian subcontinent. In addition to pictures by renowned photographers and studios such as Samuel Bourne, Sheperd & Robertson, A.T.W. Penn, and John Burke, works by lesser known artists are also on display. Popular and unexpectedly diverse ethnographic photography of the time stands in contrast to stylised street shots of artisans, as well as portraits of nobility, including Islamic princes and princesses, Maharajas, and clan leaders, taken in their own palaces or in artfully set studio scenes.

One unifying aspect of many early portraits is a particularly European view - "The Colonial Eye". In the second half of the nineteenth century, in the name of science and colonialism, the land and its inhabitants were to be apprehended through observation and cataloguing, analysation and measurement. The fascination with India was especially evoked by the strange-looking indigenous peoples and the caste-system, as well as the splendour of the Indian nobility and the austere life of ascetics."

 

Photograph : Bourne & Shepherd (?), Andamanen-Insulaner, um 1880, Albuminabzug

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Exhibition in Delhi | 'Mastering the Lens : Before and After Cartier-Bresson in Pondicherry'

Exhibition in Delhi | 'Mastering the Lens : Before and After Cartier-Bresson in Pondicherry' | Indian Photographies | Scoop.it
Photographs culled from an unbound and unpublished album of Henri Cartier-Bresson taken in Pondicherry are at the core of an upcoming exhibition...

 

" In Henri Cartier-Bresson’s life that remained eventful till the end, one chapter belonged to the photographer’s visit to Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry in the ’50s. The father of modern photojournalism had of course been to India earlier, met Mahatma Gandhi and even covered his funeral. All of that remains well-known but his work on the Ashram remains comparatively less talked about. Bresson, it is said, had a knack for bearing witness to historic moments. So this time too, he was there shooting Sri Aurobindo, the revered yogi-philosopher-guru-poet, just a few months before his death.

The Alkazi Foundation for the Arts in collaboration with Alliance Francaise de Delhi is presenting some masterly frames made during this engagement. The exhibition “Mastering the Lens: Before and After Cartier-Bresson in Pondicherry” will be accompanied by the launch of a publication collaboratively published by the Alkazi Collection, Mapin and the French Embassy. “Cartier-Bresson was fascinated by The Mother (Mirra Alfassa) and what was going on at the Ashram. He sought permission to photograph it and it was granted. He stayed there for 10 days. Now the photographs that he shot were compiled by The Mother into albums. The Mother bought negatives from him and brought out as many as 30 albums but only one album remains now,” says Rahaab Allana, curator of the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts.

The majority of the images to be showcased in this exhibition belong to this unbound and unpublished album of Cartier-Bresson. Besides taking the last pictures of Sri Aurobindo Ghose in the company of his spiritual companion, The Mother, the French photographer also recorded his observations and experiences. The exhibition also features these notes. Now, even though Alkazi Collection owns these photographs, the copyright remains with Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson which was managed by his wife Martine Franck, who passed away last month. The exhibition is dedicated to Franck, also a Magnum photographer, specialising in portraiture photography."

 

Photo : 'The Mother Playing tennis' | Henri Cartier-Bresson

Article by Shailaja Tripathi | The Hindu

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