What’s becoming increasingly apparent from the history of Indian photography is the preoccupation with the family portrait. The considerable formalities of the studio portrait have given way to the snapshot and the more intimate subject matter of art making. As the extended family is under stress, pressure is increasing to divulge its secrets. The multiplicity of relationships that individuals have, are often managed by a cloak of secrecy about real and/or imaginary feelings about siblings, parents, children and others. How and what to reveal seems to be one of our paramount contemporary concerns. Meanwhile society itself is changing; now more accepting of a range of a family structures from one individual alone to same-sex families. The title of the exhibition comes from Alice Munro, a Canadian writer of short stories that extensively explore this sensitive and difficult terrain.
Anusha Yadav‘s online ‘Indian Memory Project’ where people are asked to upload a photo and relate the story of the relative takes the personal archive into a contested public space. Clare Arni’s extended portrait of the Belgian woman ascetic Meera as she emerges from her thirty year spiritual retreat spent in a cave in Hampi. Gauri Gill‘s extraordinarily evocative witness of the short life of Jannat from rural Rajasthan- not a sociological study, nor a memorial. Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi’s record of his father battling brain cancer, in the words of the writer-photographer, ‘have me thinking about not only my father’s end but also my own and how I will meet it.’
Sarindar Dhaliwal‘s video piece, ‘Olive, Almond and Mustard’ a diaspora artist’s reflection on the Punjabi village of her birth, the memory of her mother’s tales and the nursery rhymes of her adopted homelands. Priya Sen‘s video project ’Antecedent Garden’, takes her through a continuous museum of places and childhoods – both simultaneously becoming signifiers of the future, as well as a constantly changing past. Nandini Valli Muthiah‘s series, ‘Remembering to Forget’ where children enact, in fancy dress, roles chosen by their parents – a performance that for many will remain with them through their adult years. And finally Sunil Gupta’s ongoing project, ‘Country’, investigating the traces of his father’s family in rural Uttar Pradesh and its three hundred year trajectory into the modern world.
Something I’ve been meaning to tell you
Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi
Nandini Valli Muthiah
Curated by Sunil Gupta and Vidya Shivadas
Vadehra Art Gallery
D-178 Okhla Phase I
New Delhi 110020