M–W, Th–Su: 10 am–5 pm; Tu: 10 am–9 pm
Admission: $6.50 (child)–$24 (adult)
Moving Still: Performative Photography in India features artists who participate in their own photo-narratives, positioning themselves at the centre of social and political inquiry. Through their work, this exhibition explores themes such as gender, religion, and sexual identity.
Recent scholarship on Indian art reveals the importance of photography in nineteenth-century India through to the present. Beginning in the late 1850s, photographers in Bombay (renamed Mumbai), Calcutta (renamed Kolkata), and Madras (renamed Chennai) organized lectures and exhibitions, fostering an active culture of experimentation and exchange regarding image-making that continues today. Moving Still includes key work from this early period by Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II and Umrao Singh Sher-Gil, both considered pioneers of photography in India.
With this historical context in mind, Moving Still focuses on the lens-based practices of contemporary artists who are rooted in the diversity of cultures in India, while at the same time engaging in global dialogue. Pushpamala N, one of today’s leading international figures in conceptual photography, video, and performance, creates colourful scenes using herself as the subject. In Sunhere Sapne (1998), she presents an ironic look at the Indian family post-independence by staging herself as both a stereotypical middle-class housewife and her fantasy alter ego, a wealthy, well-styled socialite. Vivan Sundaram reconfigures his grandfather Umaro Singh Sher-Gill’s iconic photographs into digital photomontages, thereby creating an alternative family history and narrative.
Others who challenge dominant cultural and intellectual discourses in their work include Sunil Gupta and Naveen Kishore, who each explore the politics of gay life through different social and cultural perspectives. Blurring fact, fiction, and mythology in the multichannel video Between the Waves (2012), Tejal Shah uses photo-narrative to confront societal norms around sex and gender.
Representing the transformation from still photography to moving image, the video works of Sonia Khurana and Anita Dube explore questions of gender and body, while the interdisciplinary works of Ranbir Kaleka and Kiran Subbaiah weave together aspects of painting, performance, and cinema.
From the late nineteenth century up to the present, artists in India have been constructing and reconstructing realities through lens-based practices. Moving Still vividly highlights those artists who—whether working in photography and video—have imaginatively harnessed the power of the camera to both reflect and reshape the everyday.
Participating artists include Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II, Umrao Singh Sher-Gil, Vivan Sundaram, Anita Dube, Sonia Khurana, Gauri Gill, Pushpamala N, Sunil Gupta, Tejal Shah, Kiran Subbaiah, Ranbir Kaleka, Naveen Kishore, and Nikhil Chopra.
Organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery, an initiative of the Institute of Asian Art, and curated by Diana Freundl, Associate Curator of Asian Art, and Gayatri Sinha, independent curator and founder of Critical Collective.