Postdate: Photography and Inherited History in India is on at the San Jose Museum of Art until August 2. I knew I had to see if for Pushpamala N and Clare Arni’s Yogini (see Stalking Yogini) but I was really taken with so much of the work!
Here I am comparing the original gouache Yogini with Mynah (1603-4 ) with the photographic re-enactment on exhibit in the series, “Native Women of South India: Manners and Customs” in which many such iconic images of Indian women were staged and shot.
Surekha’s The Fragrance of Jasmine (2002) was a collection of 87 found photographs from the South Indian tradition of marking points of passage in a girl’s life (puberty, marriage, pregnancy) by taking photograph of the girl with a jasmine flower braid (carefully reflected in a mirror). Very moving en masse like this.
As you moved past Jitish Kallat’s lenticular photographic print, Event Horizon (2014) colors shifted and the image would change like catching glimpses from the window of a quickly moving rickshaw.
Speaking of rickshaws, Artist Making a Local Call, again by Jitish Kallat, played with the sense of time by overlaying multiple digital exposures for the period of a typical payphone call (you can see the shadows shift). The resulting image is slightly surreal.
Deconstructing traditional portraiture, Nandan Ghiya had painted digitally altered portraits and reframed them looking at them as a genre from the past, one that is rapidly changing.
Madhuban Mitra’s twelve pigment photographs, Post Datum, from 1973 speaks to me of the archaic and inexplicably functional nature of bureaucratic India. I remember the curious experience of placing a train reservation in the 90’s – my request was recorded in a dusty tomb that was relegated to cavernous dusty shelves with similar dusty tombs and I thought “There goes nothing!” but there was indeed a place reserved for me. This collection of photographs is a tribute to the heroic, historic organization in the midst of chaos in India as it molders away.
I think my favorite piece is Gauri Gill’s silver gelatin photograph, Urma and Nimili, Lankaranasar from her “Notes from the Dessert” series. I love the juxtaposition of their serious faces in this playful pose and how lovingly they support each other – topsy turvy!