Themes of colonialism and individualism, the theatrical and the natural, tradition and modernity converge in the work of 16 contemporary Indian photographers. Each series offers a personal account of what it is to be Indian and an alternative insight into a culture that we tend to associate with crowds and chaos.
Three photographers stand out. Anita Khemka photographs herself travelling in battered train carriages, creating powerful, personal portrayals of emotional fragility. Umro Singh Sher-Gil and Richard Bartholomew’s intimate portraits show the sweet, sensitive side to family life, which in the latter’s case is when the kids are asleep.
Men present the more theatrical of the images, drawing on the religious rituals still practised by the majority of the population; India is predominantly Hindu but it has six main religions and regional customs vary widely. Photographer Ebenezer Sunder Singh portrays his own relationship with what he calls the “universality of religion” in images possibly designed to shock. Nikhil Chopra makes elaborate ceremonial performances of daily tasks, such as shaving. Homosexuality is presented in the stylised porn of Anay Mann; female photographer Sunil Gupta explores sexuality more originally. Sheba Chhachhi portrays the ‘dream’ of Indian feminism in the late Eighties, showing the clear importance of a literary Western education to the movement.
India became independent from the British in 1947 ending centuries of colonialist plunder. The vestiges of this bizarre expat culture can be seen in the lifestyles of some of the country’s Anglo-Indians, defined as those whose mothers are Indian and fathers British. Dileep Prakash offers some interesting images of this class apart.
Vidura Jang Bahadur documents the Chinese community in India, having spent a number of years as an Indian living in China, while Prashant Panjiar presents a photo story of bandit king Malkhan Singh, a popular figure who served his criminal sentence and now has political ambitions.
Alex gave this exhibition three and a half stars out of five
Jo mateix i l’altre
La Virreina Centre de la Imatge
Until September 27th