Print Culture: View A Show On The Process Of Analogue Photography
Before digital photography replaced film, taking pictures was a lengthy exercise. It began with the act of loading the film into the camera and ended with collecting the photographs from the film processor. What seemed routine appears to be a lot of effort now, when taking a pictures involves a mere click. The Surface of Things: Photography in Process, an ongoing show at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, reminds us of the procedure of making analogue pictures through the work of four contemporary photographers.
Uzma Mohsin’s ‘A Minute of Make Believe’ is a collaboration with Bharat Bhushan Mahajan and his son Amit Mahajan, both street photographers in Delhi. They take pictures with a box camera, a wooden contraption that has a minute-long exposure and produces a print that the photographers develop on the spot. The process allows ‘trick’ pictures. For instance, images of a man holding his wife and kids in his hand; and a woman’s face superimposed on a leaf. The photos evoke nostalgia for old-fashioned fair amusements like getting portraits taken against fantastical backdrops. But in the show, the pictures are framed in a modern fashion like Instagram pictures. Mohsin, who lives in Delhi, has kept a heart-shaped stamp and red ink for visitors to show their appreciation by stamping ‘likes’ beneath the frames.
Delhi photographer Sukanya Ghosh’s ‘Time Travel’ recalls the process of making scrapbooks and albums. She has arranged her family photos in boxes with odds and ends like decorative flowers and a book. Putting the pictures in a repository such as a box suggests the archival nature of making albums.
New York between 1992 and 1997 is the subject of Srinivas Kuruganti’s series, ’39 East First Street’. Kuruganti, who is based in Delhi, shot streets scenes, pictures of friends hanging out and portraits while he lived in New York City and developed the prints himself in a darkroom. The images are intimate and capture the flavour of an era, that is, the hedonistic, free-spirited 1990s.
Goan lensman Edson Beny Dias’s series ‘Voices’ is an experimentation with nineteenth-century techniques: the salt paper process, albumen printing and the Van Dyke brown process. Dias takes multiple exposures of himself in various positions, confronting the camera directly, smoking a cigarette, assuming Biblical postures such as standing with outstretched arms mimicking Christ on the crucifix, and holding a cloth in the manner of a pieta. The self-portraits, the curatorial note tells us, is a means for Dias to examine his own psyche. Could Dias be examining a preoccupation with religion? What’s more intriguing than Dias’s motives is the spectral quality his formal experimentation gives the pictures, and his arresting face. With his white crop and beard and questioning stare, Dias looks like a disillusioned former man of faith searching for answers to quell his inner crisis.
The Surface of Things will run until Tuesday, September 19 at The Special Projects Space, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Rani Baug, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Road, Byculla. Tel: 022 2373 1234. Open Thursday to Tuesday, from 10am to 6pm; Wednesday, closed. Get directions here. Tickets for Indians are priced at Rs10 per person for adults and children above the age of 13 and at Rs5 per person for children below the age of 13, and tickets for foreigners are priced at Rs100 per person for adults and children above the age of 13 and at Rs50 per person for children below the age of 13.