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Chemould Prescott Road opens three new exhibitions
Installation view.

MUMBAI.- Chemould Prescott Road is presenting 3 distinct projects - the overarching theme being the way archives are accessed.

That photo we never got: Shilpa Gupta’s research based project that explores the worlds of associations, of love, friendship and incongruities in the world of art. By drawing out narratives from Asia Art Archive’s (AAA)'s collection, incomplete stories are gathered from documents on art institutions, artist-organised camps, workshops, exhibitions, publications, and travels around the world — extending into some of the addas and activities in Mumbai, where the artist is based.

The Photograph is Proof: Anusha Yadav's historical investigation looking at the history of crime in the Indian Subcontinent in the 19th and 20th Century which form a fascinating visual rhetoric of an unseen and mysterious past. Even with a history of two centuries, visual evidence records and photography have not been an acknowledged craft outside of its arenas of legal usage.

Some Portraits: A curatorial project curated by Devika Daulat Singh of PhotoInk drawn from the archives of photographers - Pablo Bartholomew, Richard Bartholomew, Madan Mahatta, Ram Rahman, Sadanand Menon, Ketaki Sheth, and Sooni Taraporevala. They are an evocative mosaic of portraits of painters, writers, musicians, dancers, photographers with several of the subjects having passed. These felt portraits become a remembrance and celebration blurring the space between life and art - of artists photographing other artists.

Shilpa Gupta (In collaboration with Asia Art Archive)
10 March - 22 April 2017 at Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai

Mumbai-based artist Shilpa Gupta and Asia Art Archive (AAA) present 'That photo we never got', a research-based project that explores friendship, associations, love, and incongruities in the field of art.

By drawing out narratives from AAA’s collection, Gupta gathers incomplete stories from documents on art institutions, artist-organised camps, workshops, exhibitions, publications, and artist travels around the world.

The artist worked alongside AAA Senior Researcher Sabih Ahmed, looking at material from the 60s, 70s, and 80s housed at AAA to follow the innumerable tangents and overlapping vectors across and beyond the Archive’s collection. Gupta delves into chance encounters and fraught friendships, some imagined and others not, revealing the varied aspirations of artists and their relationships to peers, cities, and the world.

Gupta’s practice examines the dynamics of contexts, perception, and cartographies of knowledge, and has often incorporated methods of archiving into her work. While a number of stories gathered for this project had archival trails to follow, others surfaced as annotations from conversations and interviews conducted during its research. As the artist herself stated, ‘an archive can only be a proposal’; this project positions itself as an incomplete proposition of fragments placed in the interstices of the archival document and living memory.

Earlier iterations of this project were shown at the 2015 India Art Fair in New Delhi, and at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong in 2016.

The Photograph is Proof
Visual History of select crime investigations from the Indian Subcontinent. (19th-20th century)
10 March - 22 April 2017 at Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai

In 1833, William O’Shaughnessy, an Irishman joined the East India Company in Calcutta (now Kolkata), and fulfilled duties of a surgeon, professor of chemistry and a scientist.

Over nine years of his stay in India, he introduced western medicine to the therapeutic use of Cannabis, erected ‘the longest line of Telegraph ever constructed’ and in October of 1839, presented at the Asiatic Society, for the first time, experiments with a new photo drawing that had all of Europe’s attention - the Daguerreotype - a fated presentation that began a photographic revolution in the Indian subcontinent.

After the rebellion of 1857, the British Government initiated an official government study - one of the largest photographic surveys ever conducted - ‘People of India’, with 468 annotated images of native communities undertaken with the hope of a deeper understanding and thus control of Britannia’s ‘colonial subjects’ and avoiding future unrest.

Around the same time, in 1856, Norman Chevers, an English physician in Bengal, accorded photography with even more powers: of freezing time and space, and in so creating an incontestable and objective record of a crime scene or a piece of evidence.

However, not many in the colonial administration were in agreement that photography should be used as a tool to document evidence or criminals. While photography was exciting and endorsed, the logistics, heavy equipment, huge costs and lack of expertise in handling the technology was deemed a burden. Evidence or Forensic Photography was finding itself hard to be justified.

Through most of 20th century, Photography in the subcontinent enjoyed the patronage of the elite and entertainment manufacturers. However, with the Independence struggles gaining momentum, Evidence Photography began to regain favour as a tool to serve politics and power, both for and against the British Raj.

The academic rigour, with which the colonial government used photography augmented into different purposes. Photography encroached and took over Indian tabloids feeding public hunger for voyeurism & sensationalism by reporting crime in vocabularies never seen before. Whereas exposure to Hollywood films and its noir aesthetic inspired several Indian movies and literature and the line between fact and fiction was being blurred. Evidence photography had world over begun to appropriate itself for purposes other than legal proof, and India was no exception. But it took a few decades before evidence photography became a necessity for lawmakers in the subcontinent.

The visual records on display here revisit a few select cases where photographic evidence and the lack thereof, lent itself to a variety of objectives: understanding the criminal act, as a means to an end, voyeuristic entertainment and illicit thrills. They present are a visual rhetoric and a narrativised representation of alleged or proven criminal actions from a largely undocumented and diverse subcontinent.

When confronted with these images we are entering a world few have witnessed firsthand and most of these images have never been seen in public. With the distant past offering an opportunity for evidential narratives to be considered and reconsidered, the images begin to pose more questions than they offer answers; they suggest more than they show. These exposures display a palimpsest of narratives, provoking a frustration of alternate possibilities and secrets – perhaps proof that one can never know the exact truth about our pasts, even with such a seemingly absolute evidence such as a photograph.

This exhibition was first displayed at the Format International Photography Festival in Derby, UK in March 2015.

Pablo Bartholomew, Richard Bartholomew, Madan Mahatta, Sadanand Menon, Ram Rahman, Ketaki Sheth, Sooni Taraporevala
Curated by Devika Daulet-Singh
10 March - 22 April 2017 at Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai

Chemould Prescott, Mumbai is presenting a group exhibition of black & white photographs, Some Portraits curated by Devika Daulet Singh in collaboration with PHOTOINK. Drawn from the archives of Pablo Bartholomew, Richard Bartholomew, Madan Mahatta, Ram Rahman, Sadanand Menon, Ketaki Sheth and Sooni Taraporevala, this exhibition, spanning over forty years, is an evocative mosaic of portraits of painters, writers, poets, architects, dancers, designers and photographers — most of whom have passed away. What makes this series of portraits distinctive and novel is the profound interest the photographers felt for their subjects as none of the portraits were commissioned. Some Portraits is as much about remembrance and celebration as it is about that blurred space between life and art — artists photographing other artists.

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