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Mixed doubles

In Rahab Allana's diptychs, the world changes momentarily and new relationships are formed between time and space, light and shade, people and monuments, says Paramita Ghosh.

art and culture Updated: Apr 10, 2010 00:13 IST
Paramita Ghosh
Paramita Ghosh
Hindustan Times

If you don't go looking for logic in the pairing of photographs in Rahab Allana's exhibition, chances are you will see how many of them do make a fine couple.

This is why, for instance, the representations of the 'divine' in the temples of Angkor Vat in Cambodia are matched by calligraphy and text on the walls and ceilings of the Badshahi mosque in Lahore. Or, the royal places in Rajasthan are juxtaposed with Buddhist places of worship in central Asia.

Rahab Allana, curator of the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts, put together this 45-image exhibition, Worlds of Difference, of 21 pairs and three stand-alone photographs to explore "the idea of India as part of the larger cultural network of south Asia and to see how far you can live without strict cultural borders".

Allana wanted the pictures to create a sense of interaction and see images in context of one another.

"Photographs are very concrete things," he says.

"They are too rooted in place and time, so the idea was to dislocate them to relocate them". He does this by discovering a third dimension — the space that lies in between the frames.

Cambodia has clearly made an impression on the curator; photographs from that country are a constant in the exhibition.

A striking pair is a serene rock face from the Buddhist temples of Bayon, built in the late 12th century as the official shrine of the Mahayana Buddhist king, Jayavarman VII. To the left of this picture is a woman in meditation in Deeg, Rajasthan. From Deeg to Bayon... it's a long-distance marriage.

But it works.

Worlds of Difference

At Alliance Française, Lodhi Road, New Delhi from April 9 to April 16

For details, call 011-43500200