Re Present: Photography from South Asia
January 19 to March 31, 2018
Re Present: Photography from South Asia is a landmark exhibition, the first of its kind in Western Canada to present a diverse range of the rich and varied histories of photographic media from the Indian subcontinent.
Anonymous 19th Century Photographers
Alexander Gorlizki and Riyaz Uddin Studio
Pushpamala N. and Clare Arni
Adolf de Meyer
Nandini Valli Muthiah
Raja Deen Dayal
Annu Palakunnathu Matthew
Ghasiram Haradev Sharma
Raqs Media Collective
Photography was introduced to India almost immediately after it was invented in Europe. Louis Daguerre’s instructions for the new media were published in France in August 1839, and by 1840 professional photography studios were open in major cities like Calcutta and Bombay. Photography was soon adopted by the British colonial government to document the many different populations and communities they sought to control, and as a result the medium is deeply entangled with the colonial project as a tool of surveillance and policing. At the same time, photography was also enthusiastically embraced by Indians themselves as a means of personal expression and modern experimentation. The painted and embellished photographic practices that developed in nineteenth century South Asia are a unique contribution to the global history of the medium.
Re Present includes a historical section of nineteenth century photographs with examples of both colonial and vernacular forms of photography, including work by major artists including Samuel Bourne, Raja Deen Dayal and Linneaus Tripe, as well as work by many unknown or unnamed studio photographers. The second part of the exhibition features the work of several contemporary artists who use historical images or well-known compositions of visual iconography as the basis for their contemporary interventions. By re-presenting and subtly manipulating imagery that at first appears familiar, these artists insert the past into the present moment in a way that challenges long-held assumptions about photography’s capacity for accuracy and truth.
In addition to featuring the work of artists from South Asia, Re Present includes work by artists of South Asian heritage who live in the diaspora, including South Asian-Canadian artists, who use photography to reflect on themes of migration and relocation. The exhibition includes an interactive educational space highlighting the history of South Asian communities in British Columbia and the importance of photographic records in the immigrant experience.
This exhibition has an accompanying publication available here.
Curated by Adrienne Fast, Interim Curator, Kamloops Art Gallery
Generously sponsored by PACART, and Nandi's Flavours of India
View images of the exhibition here.