July, 2020

FINAL WEEK AHEAD Moving Still: Performative Photography in India

Last chance for audiences to see this group exhibition including select works presented outside of India for the first time

Vancouver, BC – Next week marks the final week for visitors to seeMoving Still: Performative Photography in India at the Vancouver Art Gallery with the last day of the exhibition on September 2. Received with praise from critics and audiences alike since it opened on April 19, Moving Still features hundreds of works, dating from the 1800s to the present, including a selection of photographs never-before-seen outside of India until now. The group presentation of thirteen artists examines themes of gender, religion and sexual identity using photography, an important medium in India since the mid-nineteenth century.

Not long after the camera’s invention in France in the nineteenth century, photographers based in Bombay (Mumbai), Calcutta (Kolkata) and Madras organized lectures and exhibitions, and published journals, fostering an active culture of experimentation and exchange that continues today. Moving Still begins by examining key works from this early period, including prints from Sawai Ram Singh II, the Maharaja of Jaipur from 1835 to 1880, known as India’s first “Photographer Prince” shown for the first time outside of India. It also looks at work by Umrao Singh Sher-Gil, who in his self-portraits engaged in reading, writing, yoga or spiritual solitude constitute for many historians the beginnings of a modern self-fashioning in the country.

Framed through this historical context, Moving Still showcases contemporary works by Vivan Sundaram, the grandson of Umrao Singh Sher-Gil, who reconfigures his grandfather’s photo archive into digital photomontages, creating an alternative family story. The exhibition also prominently features work by Pushpamala N, one of India’s leading figures in conceptual photography, video and performance. Her photo series Sunhere Sapne (Golden Dreams)(1998) presents an ironic look at the Indian family post-independence by staging herself as both a stereotypical middle-class housewife and her fantasy alter-ego, a wealthy socialite.

Sunil Gupta explores experiences of gay life, often in terms of his own identity as an HIV-positive man and the differentiating social and personal implications he encounters living between England and India as presented in Sun City (2011). Naveen Kishore revisits the life of Chapal Bhaduri, who was renowned for his portrayal of female goddesses in Bengali folk theatre. Recounting a nightly metamorphosis from man to goddess, Kishore’s Performing the Goddess: Chapal Bhaduri’s Story (1999) is a video documentary and selection of photos taken on set. Additional artists featured in Moving Still include Nikhil Chopra, Anita Dube, Gauri Gill, Ranbir Kaleka, Sonia Khurana, Tejal Shah, and Kiran Subbaiah.

Organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery, an initiative of the Institute of Asian Art and curated by Diana Freundl, Associate Curator of Asian Art and Gayatri Sinha, Independent Curator and founder of Critical Collective.

Purchase tickets online: vanartgallery.bc.ca

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