Tales of transience


Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Indu Antony (38), part of a Bengaluru-based artist collective named Kanike, speaks of how she started collecting photographs of women—anonymous images, abandoned and faded—in 2008.

The numerous (randomly collected) images of women became her everything, and she felt a sense of emotional resonance toward it. A selection from her images titled ‘Ivar’ is presented at the photography exhibition hosted by the Embassy of France in India and Alliance Française de Delhi.

The exhibition ‘Unsealed Chamber: The Transient Image’ starts today and can be viewed till November 3, featuring works by contemporary artists Aparna Nori, Philippe Calia, Arpan Mukherjee, and Antony. 

The show promotes the French practitioner Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, and is a celebration of the 195th anniversary of his first successful experimentation with photography as a novel form. Curated by Rahaab Allana of the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts, the artists have worked with multiple surfaces—glass, paper and cloth—to try and unearth the concept of original art and its evolution in the present.

Reflections of the past

Mukherjee (43), an associate professor at Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, says his collection ‘Gola Vora Dhan’ (translated in English as ‘storage full of paddy’) is a long-term project marked by themes of dislocation and displacement experienced in Bengal in the 1980s. Presented through multiple layers of image-making and documentation, he blends the collective imagery with the displacement of his own family as a biographical narrative.

His photographs are also a way to trace the colonial history behind these migrations.

“By frequently revisiting the same place across a span of time, I create a kind of layered memorialisation that I constantly engage with through the device of inserting images of my immediate family within the frame. Thus a new, and chronological, trajectory is embedded around the concept of belonging that, in my mind, remains timeless,” adds Mukherjee. 

On the other hand, Aparna Nori uses the salt-paper technique, which is highly reflective, to explore her relationship with her body, and question her anxieties and insecurities. Commenting on her work ‘Nalla Pilla’, the lens-based artist from Bengaluru says, “These bodyscapes, extreme close-ups of my skin, its flaws, folds, and grooves, its varied responses to varied stimuli, build a visual document of the interior terrain I have walked all these years.”

Exploring the medium

Photography is not just about capturing an image but how one engages with the medium itself. Mukherjee uses the 19th Century photography medium—with marks on the print—to give his work a personal touch. On the other hand, Antony explores the ephemeral nature of salt prints, edging the portraits with strands of her hair.

“The strands serve as an organic frame that, as the print becomes less and less visible, will hold a void but will itself persist as the living residue of each work as a form of presence purely dedicated to the inscription of absence, and a testimonial of our existential fragility,” concludes the 38-year-old Antony.

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