Photos: Various photographers
These images are from JaipurPhoto, which is an international photography festival held in February every year at various locations in Jaipur. Titled A Festival on Wanderlust, the show questions the very notion of travel and offers alternative ways of approaching it: through artificial paradises, the fascinating habit of faking trips; through the photographic studio backdrop as a surrogate for imaginary trips; through the anthropological challenge of being simultaneously an insider and an outsider in a foreign culture, the notion of travel can degenerate in war and terroristic zones. Travel photography as a way to make the otherness of a foreign culture more understandable. The intriguing relationship between the media, illusions and expectations. And last but not least, travel through family and time as either psychological catharses or as a vehicle to re-enact ancient literary texts.
Mass tourism today seems to have adopted digital photography as a filter for experiencing travel, vicariously, through the camera. By obsessively recording every aspect of a trip or a work of art, is our memory itself taking the shape of photographs? How are we to understand another related compulsion: that of travellers inserting themselves ad nauseam into memorable settings, which may have the effect of trivializing heritage sites?
The show is on till 5 March
Photos: Parthiv Shah
Text: Roobina Karode
These images of the Indian modern painter M.F. Hussain are created by Parthiv Shah. Titled Sadak.Sarai.Sheher.Basti: The Recurring Figure, this exhibition is a component of a large show called Stretched Terrains: A String of Seven Exhibitiions, on at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Saket, New Delhi.
Mostly taken between 1992-1993, the 66 photographs in the show display the theatre of everyday life of the artist. It consists of many conversations, travels, accidental plans, and impromptu gestures. Parthiv captures Husain amid different situations — from reading a newspaper in a busy market and roaming the streets of Nizamuddin basti, knocking doors, listening to the poetry of a mechanic-poet who lives near the dargah, to drinking tea and walking barefoot.
Husain is revealed to us as he merges with the crowd or improvises and becomes an extension of his paintings. He is also sighted among friends. These photographs shift our attention to the peripheral and different levels of playfulness of Husain, the gypsy on the move.
The show is on till 31 July
Photos: K. C. S. Paniker
Text: Biswajit Banerjee & Josef James
These images are from Paniker, a recently launched art book on acclaimed artist K.C.S. Paniker. Paniker was a legendary painter and the founder of Cholamandal Artists’ Village. This art hub is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The book traces the artistic evolution of this path-breaking painter and is enriched with articles on Paniker’s art by the late publisher Ludwig Goldscheider, late art historian Josef James and history of art professor Rebecca Brown.
Paniker is considered a leading figure in the Madras Art Movement. The whole range of Paniker’s work, from early watercolours to the recent Words and Symbols series is laced with a kind of loveliness. The natural elements are profuse and are of an unearthly aspect.
The launch of the book is accompanied by an exhibition of the artists’ works at Sarala’s Art Centre, Chennai, on view till 10 February
Photos: Abhishek Shukla
Text: Pro-Wrestling League
Wrestling, the sport, is almost as old as the human civilization. As a competitive sport, it had been contested at the ancient Olympic Games in 708 BC. When the modern Olympics resumed in Athens in 1896, wrestling became a focus of the Games. Since 1900, it became an integral part of Olympic Games.
India has a rich tradition in wrestling, too. For time immemorial, it has been a popular sport among people in the villages. Unlike the modern sport, the dangalsthen are organised here in sand akharas. Thousands of people would gather around the akhara and express support for the men or women on the mat. After the bout, the winner would go around the crowd and people would offer him cash rewards for the victory.
These images are from Pro Wrestling League (PWL), which recently concluded at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi Stadium. It is a big leap in the history of this oldest of combat sports. An initiative of ProSportify and Wrestling Federation of India, PWL was the richest wrestling event ever, with an offer more than $3 miilion in prize money and appearance fees. Some of the biggest names in Indian wrestling, as well as international greats, participated in PWL 2017.
Photos & text: PHOTOINK
These images are from a group exhibition of black-and-white photographs, Some Portraits, recently concluded at the PHOTOINK gallery in New Delhi. Drawn from the archives of photographers Pablo Bartholomew, Richard Bartholomew, Madan Mahatta, Ram Rahman, Sadanand Menon, Ketaki Sheth and Sooni Taraporevala, this exhibition, spanning over forty years, is an evocative mosaic of portraits of painters, writers, poets, architects, dancers, designers and photographers — most of whom have passed away.
What makes this series of portraits distinctive and novel is the profound interest the photographers felt for their subjects as none of the portraits were commissioned. Some Portraits is as much about remembrance and celebration as it is about that blurred space between life and art — artists photographing other artists.
Photos & text: Pankaj Mishra
Mark Twain had once said of Varanasi, “Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”
Varanasi got its name from two ghats — Varuna and Assi. Ghats, temples and echoes of Har Har Mahadev define this oldest of living cities. Despite having around 23,000 temples, the city is more about spirituality than religion. People from across the world come here to explore their spiritual side. The city has been a symbol of spiritualism, philosophy and mysticism for thousands of years. Some great thinkers like Rabindranath Tagore, Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Swami Vivekanand also spent time here.
It is said that the tradition of burning pyres at the Manikarnika ghat is almost 3,000 years old. Varanasi is also known as the gateway to salvation. It is believed that one who dies in Varanasi breaks the cycle of death and rebirth and achieves nirvana (salvation). It is also said that the city was founded by the Hindu deity Lord Shiva 5,000 years ago. The city is full of such stories. Sights such as meditating sadhus and aghoris to children taking a dip in the Ganga river, the city presents multiple aspects to a photographer.
Pankaj Mishra is a Varanasi-based filmmaker and photographer
Photos: Prabuddha Dasgupta
Text: Serendipity Arts Trust
These photographs, from the series Edge of Faith by Prabuddha Dasgupta (1956–2012), were displayed at Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa recently.
Located on the west coast of India along the Arabian Sea, Goa was liberated in 1961, after 450 years of Portuguese rule. The ambivalence created by this transition of culture and political loyalty provides the backdrop for the work of Indian photographer Prabuddha Dasgupta in Edge of Faith.
The photographs create an intimate and deeply personal portrait of the Catholic community in Goa rarely seen before — a portrait of a gentle and generous people, torn between their fidelity to a history of Portuguese faith and culture and their post-Independence Indian identity. Edge of Faith captures Catholic Goa in a haunting, but beautiful impasse — caught in a time warp between comforting nostalgia and a doubt-ridden, insecure future.
Photos: Fanil Pandya
Text: Amrita Varma
Headhunters by Fanil Pandya showcases the life and culture of the Konyak tribe, which is a warrior clan which was once famous for cutting heads. They live in the remotest regions of Nagaland near the border of Burma. This clan had honour killings by severing heads of enemies and decorating them with pride on their wall. They are a highly inaccessible set of people to get to. These portraits show us a glipmse of their past, look at their present scenario and aim to dive in the future as they are fast disappearing from this part of the earth.
It must be noted though that they were not cannibals and the heads were badges of honour, with tattoos on their faces symbolising the number of heads they had knifed till the 1990s when the ban on such killings was finally imposed by the government.
This body of work puts out startling questions. Is our point of view of the world valid? Does Western education and its glorified lifestyle entail the only way of living in this world? Is letting go of the old ways a cycle or a habit rather than an effort to amalgamate and revive cultural positives and let go of the negatives, which is a slower process, but a more integrated one?
The show, curated by Amrita Varma, is on till 19 January 2017 at the Egg Art Studio, New Delhi