From Colonial to Contemporary: MAP Academy shows it all

As a part of Visions of India: From Colonial to the Contemporary, an exhibition of photographs from the Museum of Art and Photography (MAP), Bangalore collection, was recently showcased at the Monash Gallery of Art (MGA) in Melbourne, Australia.

In a first major survey of Indian photography in Australia, the exhibition encompassed three elaborate periods—the 19th century, mid-20th century, and contemporary—traces the history of photography in the subcontinent. They reflected not just the subject of political, cultural, and material transformations but a virtual space where centuries-old biases were contested.

Curated by Nathaniel Gaskell, writer, and director of the MAP Academy, the event was put to display the portraits of the ruling elite, from 1860 onwards, taken by the leading photographers and studios of the time, such as Samuel Bourne, Lala Deen Dayal, and Johnston & Hoffmann. Images by European photographers such as Marc Riboud and Norman Parkinson reveal how photography remained entrenched in the Orientalist lens.

Image: Samuel BOURNE | Taj Mahal, Agra c. 1860 albumen print (16.0 x 20.6 cm) Courtesy of the artist and Museum of Art and Photography (MAP) (Bengaluru)

Apart from orientalist, work of still hands by Indian photographers such as Jyoti Bhatt, contemporary photographers such as Pushpamala N., Clare Arni, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, and Anoli Perera presented the opportunity to explore some ingenious ways of representing tradition, inequity, and modernity in a changing world, responding to industrialization and economic progress.

Last month has been quite eventful for MAP, as earlier in December it collaborated with US’ Berklee College of Music to host Art Is Life: SoundFrames, celebrating music and its power to bring people together.

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