An upcoming exhibition aims to serve as a poignant tribute to India's rich tapestry of creativity, showcasing the profound contributions of Indian photographers, authors, filmmakers, and artists. Despite being hosted in Italy, the essence of the exhibition remains deeply rooted in India's cultural soil. It is not merely a display of diverse talents but an homage to the nation itself, capturing the essence of decades through the brilliance of its artists.
Titled 'India Today', the exhibition embarks on a visual journey through the historical and social evolution of India, from the era following its independence in 1947 to the present day. The showcased works, ranging from established authors to emerging voices in contemporary Indian photography, serve as interpreters of the present and near future of the Indian subcontinent.
The exhibition's chronological arrangement of works provides viewers with a nuanced narrative, traversing from the mid-twentieth century to the new millennium, culminating in the perspectives of contemporary artists. The images, captured by artists who actively participated in and witnessed the transformative moments of India's history, act as powerful witnesses to the socio-economic metamorphosis of the Indian subcontinent.
Curated by Filippo Maggia and organized by ERPAC – Ente Regionale per il Patrimonio Culturale del Friuli Venezia Giulia, the exhibition delves into the complexities of India's rapid economic and industrial evolution. Maggia notes the consequential societal challenges, including issues of gender, identity, religion, and environmental impact, as India grapples with the consequences of urbanization, depopulation of rural areas, and migration.
A standout project that captivates viewers is 'The Cinema Travellers' by Amit Madheshiya. Originally released as a documentary film in 2016, the project sheds light on the traveling cinemas of India. Filmed over five years, the documentary follows a shrewd exhibitor, a benevolent showman, and a maverick projector mechanic who strive to preserve the last traveling cinemas in the world. The project's exploration of the intersection between tradition and modernity resonates deeply, offering a poignant reflection on the impact of digital technology on India's cinematic heritage.
Another compelling series is 'Laxmi' by Anita Khemka, focusing on the life and evolution of Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a prominent transgender rights activist. Khemka's lens captures the struggles and triumphs of Laxmi, providing an intimate portrayal of a community often marginalized in Indian society. The ongoing collaboration between Anita and Laxmi since 2003 exemplifies the power of photography to document and elevate the voices of those on the fringes.
Dilip Prakash's series, 'THE ANGLO-INDIANS,' offers a glimpse into the unique cultural identity of the Anglo-Indian community. Through portraits taken during his extensive travels across India, Prakash explores the dichotomy within the community – some assimilating into the mainstream, while others maintain their distinctive traditions. The project reflects on the history, lifestyle, and cultural traditions of the Anglo-Indians, providing a nuanced perspective on their assimilation into Indian society.
'STREET PHOTOGRAPHS' by renowned photojournalist Raghu Rai and "Bombay Mix" by Ketaki Sheth are two additional noteworthy projects in the exhibition. Raghu Rai, known as the father of Indian photojournalism, presents a comprehensive documentation of Indian life spanning over 50 years. Meanwhile, Ketaki Sheth's 'Bombay Mix' captures the vibrant and contrasting life on the streets of Bombay over nearly two decades.
'India Today' stands as a testament to the power of art and photography to reflect, critique, and celebrate the diverse narratives that shape a nation's identity. Through the lenses of these talented artists, the exhibition offers a profound and multifaceted exploration of India's past, present, and future.
Read more about the exhibition here.