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
Photos: Various artists
Text: Nathalie Herschdorfer
These images, from the exhibition Coming into Fashion: A Century of Photography at Condé Nast, looks at 100 years of fashion photography. Carefully selected from the Condé Nast archives in New York, Paris, London, and Milan, more than 160 vintage prints provide a unique opportunity to discover the works of photographers who went on to become the biggest names in the history of fashion photography.
Working as a curator in photography, I think that fashion photography has entered into museums and is bought by art collectors. It does not fall either side of the art-or-commerce divide. When we look at how fashion photography has developed over the last century, it becomes clear that it is possible to develop as a fashion photographer at a creative and artistic level. As the fashion industry and its economy have expanded, photographers have continued to demonstrate their capacity for invention and innovation.
Photos: Dinesh Khanna and Kathryn Myers
Dinesh Khanna and Kathryn Myers, who are showcasing their works for the first time together in reciprocation to one another’s creative interests, capture objective reality through the lens of the camera where, unlike Henry Matisse, they are exploiting the possibilities of this technological device to reveal their own visions about the world they encounter and empathise with.
The show, aptly titled Reciprocation, suggests the way they both respond to India: Dinesh Khanna as the son of the soil and Kathryn Myers as a frequent visitor to this land, seemingly to blend or reciprocate the “insider-outsider” discourse. Khanna discovers his artistic subject matter in rural India with its unassuming folks, spirited festivities and sacred rituals radiating the fragrance of life and the eventuality of its purpose. Kathryn relates to spaces as passages; passages of movement, of inhabitation, of time, of transformation and transcendence.
The exhibition runs from 12 December to 11 January at Art and Aesthetic gallery, New Delhi
Photos: Various artists
Text: India Habitat Centre
Curated by Dr Alka Pande, the theme exhibition titled Panchtattvas: The Road Ahead is being held in both the indoor and outdoor spaces of the Habitat Centre and includes photographs and photo-based installations on sustainability. created by the four awardees of the prestigious Photosphere grant - Harikrishna Katragadda, Monica Tiwari, Shraddha Borawake and K. R Sunil, each having been mentored in this creative process by senior photographers like Parthiv Shah, Bandeep Singh, Prabir Purkayastha and Aditya Arya respectively.
K.R. Sunil centers his project around the ethnographic photo-documentation of ponds in Kerala which are on the verge of extinction, Monica Tiwari has trained her lens to document the lifestyle changes in children of migrant parents in the context of global-warming led migration in the Sunderbans, Harikrishna Katragadda titles his project You Can’t Step Into The Same River Twice focusing on the pollution in river Ganga and Shraddha Borawake has chosen the all-encompassing mother Earth as the topic for her installation-based photographic project titled Benevolence. The four mentors themselves will be showing their photographic work responding to that of their mentees. Some photographs by both the awardees and their mentors will also be shown at the Mandi House metro station.
The exhibition is on till 31st December
Photos: Krishnendu Chatterjee
Text: Habitat World, IHC
These photos by Krishnendu Chatterjee from his series, Destroying, are the artist’s response to the terrible predicament faced by the Yamuna — one the most polluted Indian rivers, which ironically, is also among the country’s most revered water bodies. The enduring truth about its continuity and nourishment of the capital city, bearing witness to changing times and countless generations, did not help the river escape the filth that it accumulates every day.
Festivities, ceremonies and processions of all kinds, along the river have become so commonplace that it is mistreated with religious and political legitimacy. And when this is coupled with the development narrative that fuels industrial activity and unrestrained consumption, no questions can be asked. The artist exposes the duplicity where cultural practices and the philosophy of modern life exert tremendous pressure on the ecosystem. He locates some of these moments amounting to cutting off our critical lifeline, triggering honest introspection.
The exhibition is on at the Delhi O’ Delhi Foyer, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi till 30 November