Visions of India: photographic journey from the colonial to the contemporary

Photo- SAT/NN

By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 18 December 2021: Since the invention of photography in 1840s in Europe, it has played an important role in India’s history. The colonial rulers used it for their administration to govern a vast country different from Britain.The photos became a tool of colonialism. Though they were for the colonial eye, the photos now are part of the visual history of their times.

The situation after 1947, in independent India photography by Indians and Westerners reflected the new emerging social, political and cultural ethos. The 21st century saw many changes and the commercial aspect in towns across the country continued to be influenced by the colonial era.

Pippa Milne, Senior curator, MGA. Video- SAT/NN.

Curated by Nathaniel Gaskell, all the artworks are from the Museum of Arts and Photography (MAP), Bangaluru, form part of ‘The Visions of India – From the Colonial to the Contemporary’ launched today at the Monash Gallery of Arts (MGA), Wheelers Hill, Victoria.


Sashi Kochar, Visitor. Video- SAT/NN

The exhibition has two sections – one before 1947 and the other after 1947. In the section on photographs after India’s independence explore new ways of representing tradition, inequity and modernisation.

Photos taken at the exhibition.

The artists in the exhibition are: Darogah Abbas Ali, Indu Antony, Felice Beato, Mitter Bedi, Jyoti Bhatt, Bourne & Shepherd, Samuel Bourne, Michael Bühler-Rose, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Chunni Lall & Co., Lala Deen Dayal, Francis Frith & Co., Gauri Gill, Khubiram Gopilal, Hamilton Studios Ltd, Johnston and Hoffmann, Willoughby Wallace Hooper, William Johnson, John William Kaye and John Forbes Watson, Karen Knorr, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Steve McCurry, Saché & Murray Studios, Pushpamala N with Clare Arni, Nicolas & Company (attributed), Norman Parkinson, Anoli Perera, Suresh Punjabi, Marc Riboud, John Edward Saché, Charles Scott (attributed), Sawai Ram Singh II, Maharaja of Jaipur, Edward Taurines (attributed), Waswo X Waswo, Wiele and Klein Studio, Wilson Studios Bombay.

Video- SAT/NN (YouTube)

An added bonus with this exhibition are the works of Indian- Australian photographer Yask Desai: Telia in MGSA’s Atrium Gallery. His series Telia includes archival material and documentation combined with his own photographs as a means to reanimate and re-examine the experiences of the men who migrated from undivided India and worked as hawkers or travelling salesmen within rural Australia during the late 19th and early to mid-20th centuries.

Visions of India: from the colonial to the contemporary . Monash Gallery of Art (MGA) 860 Ferntree Gully Road Wheelers Hill, VIC 3150. 17 Dec 2021 to 20 March 2022.

Neeraj Nanda

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