Unfolding memories through photography at this exhibition in the Capital

Works of artists namely Aparna Nori, Arpan Mukherjee, Phillipe Calia and Indu Antony are on exhibit in an ongoing group show titled ‘Unsealed Chamber: The Transient Image’.
Four Indian contemporary artists exhibit their varied experiments in the medium of photography, 195 years after the first successful experimentation with photography by a French practitioner.
Four Indian contemporary artists exhibit their varied experiments in the medium of photography, 195 years after the first successful experimentation with photography by a French practitioner.
Published on Oct 18, 2021 02:51 PM IST
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BySiddhi Jain

New Delhi

Oscillating between the permanence and the transience of the photographs, four Indian artists are exhibiting their experiments with the visual medium. The ongoing show in the Capital, titled Unsealed Chamber: The Transient Image, marks the 195th anniversary of the first successful experimentation with photography, patented by French practitioner Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1827.

As the show’s curator, Rahaab Allana, puts it, the works “demand that we decode them the best as we can”.

Artwork by Indu Antony, currently on display.
Artwork by Indu Antony, currently on display.

Transdisciplinary artist Indu Antony, who started collecting anonymous photos of women in 2008, is displaying 26 pieces from her project Ivar (them in Malayalam). “I began making salt paper portraits of faces. Salt prints have an ephemeral quality. Over time they fade, just as subjects are erased from memory,” she says, adding, “I’ve edged each of the portraits with my own hair and stitched the borders, which is a metaphor for memories I’m trying to hold onto. Although these women live within me, there is a certain impermanence and that’s also the beauty of analogue mediums.”

Artwork by Phillipe Calia, being showcased at the exhibition.
Artwork by Phillipe Calia, being showcased at the exhibition.

For artist Phillipe Calia, it’s the analogue process of “destroying photographs and recording that process of destruction” that connects to the theme. Another participating artist Aparna Nori has explored the idea of memory through various photographic interventions and processes.

Another participating artist Aparna Nori has explored the idea of memory through various photographic interventions and processes. “Photography to me is not just about capturing an image, it’s how I engage with the medium itself. The process of understanding the ‘why’ of the narrative is as vital. Everything has a place, concept, process and a final image. Only then the work will breathe,” says Nori, explaining how her body of work named Nalla Pilla (Telugu for little dark girl) is an extension of this thought. She has exhibited photographic works of different shades and textures, in this attempt to “project discomfort and trauma”.

Artwork by Arpan Mukherjee, currently on display at the exhibition.
Artwork by Arpan Mukherjee, currently on display at the exhibition.

And, the works of artist Arpan Mukherjee give a peek into the 19th century mediums, used by the colonial photographers. “I was interested in migrating from rural to urban spaces. This is a phenomenon since 1980s in Bengal. My family migrated, too. It raises multiple issues in the social, agricultural, and economic realm. So, I was interested in documenting, revisiting and recording the spaces,” says the artist, who is a professor in the department of printmaking at Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan (West Bengal).

Catch It Live

What: Unsealed Chamber, The Transient Image

Where: Alliance Française, Lodi Estate

On till: November 3

Timing: 11am to 8pm

Nearest Metro Station: Jor Bagh on Yellow Line and JLN Stadium on Violet Line

Author tweets @siddhijainn

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Saturday, December 04, 2021