Art

Photography at Serendipity Arts Festival 2019

I Could Not Save You, by Tahia Farhin Haque

I Could Not Save You, by Tahia Farhin Haque  

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Ravi Aggarwal and Rahaab Allana’s curation marks a shift in the vocabulary of photographers

Ravi Aggarwal and Rahaab Allana, the two curators, mark a shift in the vocabulary of those using the medium in South Asia. Aggarwal’s Imagined Documents brings the works of seven artists — including Sharbendu De, Prajakta Potnis, Munem Wasif and YaminiNayar — not all of whom necessarily see photography as their primary means of expression. Aggarwal’s curatorial interest stems from the shifts he perceives in narratives and vocabularies, and the exhibition explores subjects such as gender roles, the ecology, marginalisation, and political strife, but through a staged, reconstructed format, a different kind of a ‘truth’.

Azadeh Aklaghi

Azadeh Aklaghi  

“Marking an exhaustion with the documentary, they engage with a simulacra of reality, as a condition of the world where all truth is mediated through techno-images,” writes Aggarwal in his curatorial note. For example, Azadeh Akhlaghi’s By an Eyewitness revisits key deaths in Iran’s acrimonious history through a cinematic reconstruction of chaos, pain, fear and sorrow. In Pakistani artist Bani Abidi’s Karachi Series, isolated non-Muslim characters are engaged in mundane domestic rituals, from ironing clothes to reading newspapers, underscoring the invisibleness of minority religious communities in the country.

 

Imagined Homelands by Sharbendu De

Imagined Homelands by Sharbendu De  

Allana’s curation, Look, Stranger!, draws an arc between experimental contemporary photography in South Asia and the modernist New Vision photography movement. Among the 40-odd artists featured, Priyanka Dasgupta and Chad Marshall has reconstructed an archival photo (from the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts) of a peddler from Bengal, and reconstructed his reality as a jazz musician in New York. The fictional work touches upon themes of migration, colonialism and racism. Vijayanka Nair and Natasha Raheja’s project on biometric identification is juxtaposed in the exhibition design with a found archive in Myanmar of anonymous people going about their everyday life.

 

A part of this section dwells on India’s crossover moment immediately after independence, and the social realities and ethics of engagement. Allana has excavated material from the collections of Swaraj Archives (originals of Somath Hore and Sunil Jannah); the Partition Museum (a video clip on how the contents of the Lahore Museum were divided); films with ‘social messages’ from the Film Archives of India; and includes an interview with photographer Ram Rahman on the modernist architecture captured on film by Madan Mahatta.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 10:35:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/photography-at-serendipity-arts-festival-2019/article30306050.ece

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