Sunday, April 28, 2013

India- past and present

A new traveling show courtesy Tasveer offers an introduction to Magnum’s vast and rich archive denoting its continual engagement with India’s socio-political scene through the keen eyes of eight photographers, whose careers span the agency’s glorious past, present and immense promise for the future. Having been presented at Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, it will now travel to Kolkata and Ahmedabad.

Magnum’s earliest group projects
Although not part of this selection it must be noted that Magnum’s engagement with India began in its early years, with founder member Henri Cartier-Bresson’s famous photographs of the last days and funeral of Gandhi in 1948. Two years later the Swiss photographer Werner Bischof traveled to India and photographed a young temple dancer for one of Magnum’s earliest group projects, Generation X. Her portrait is included here amongst his selection of exquisitely composed images.
Images of pilgrimage and meditation
In 1959 Marilyn Silverstone was sent on a three-month assignment to India, but ended up moving to New Delhi and was based there until 1973. This exhibition features a selection of her portraits of Indian society. Included is one of the Dalai Lama, significant to Silverstone’s personal story, in that she was later to become a Buddhist monk. The Iranian photographer Abbas has returned many times to India as part of his exploration of global religions. His selection includes images of pilgrimage and meditation.
Indian street life and social realities
Bruno Barbey’s color and Scianna’s bold black & white photographs capture the ebb and flow of Indian street life in the 1980s. A master of colour and light Steve McCurry’s photography is strongly associated with this part of the world. Notable not just for their vibrant palate, his portraits employ the direct gaze of the subject to create an immediate engagement with the viewer. One of Magnum’s youngest members, Olivia Arthur, joined Magnum in 2008. Now an associate, she is represented here by a series of portraits of the Ramani sect, a group of untouchables whose unique tattoos are a form of protest against the Indian cast system.
The above works will be on view at Seagull Foundation for the Arts, Kolkata (8 May - 28 May, 2013) and National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad (5 July - 14 July, 2013).

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