New Delhi, Oct 23 | On the 195th anniversary of the first successful experimentation with photography as a novel form, an exhibition ‘Unsealed Chamber: The Transient Image’ is being held at Alliance Francaise de Delhi, New Delhi till November 3.
Four contemporary artists working with both analogue and digital methods, reacting to vital transformations following a year of introspection in the course of the pandemic are presenting their works, curated by Rahaab Allana. They include Aparna Nori, Arpan Muherjee, Indu Antony and Philippe Calia.
Through newly made productions, the photographers explore a sense of creative hybridity by melding both manual techniques and new media to reflect on questions of self, society, ecology and representation. With a focus on ongoing social concerns, sometimes as subjects within their own images, they make crucial contributions to the ever-growing cultural history of the craft of image-making and identity construction.
The exhibition seeks to exhume what we mean by an ‘original’ form in art, and its appropriation, manipulation and evolution in the present as a transient object. Each artist engages with an intensive reworking of new found material as a means to unpack his or her inner lives, using speculative means – montage and fiction. Working with multiple surfaces, including glass, paper and cloth, they undertake an introspective journey to different paradigms of reality, prompted by a planetary consciousness of our common predicaments since the pandemic, and hence make us think about shifting interpersonal exchanges.
‘Unsealed Chamber’ further considers our place in the world – our collective role as researchers, surveyors, archivists, and pedagogues, with each individual contributing to an ever-enlarging knowledge system. Artist Philippe Calia approaches the planet via Google Earth satellite images, scrutinising sites which are mined for developing camera hardware on mobile devices. Through still and moving images, he explores the destruction of the Earth’s surface, but also ponders the idea of reconstruction through core memories from his childhood seen in a video installation. The very texture of his images draws us to the works of Aparna Nori, who performs acts of inscription – both as subject and spectator, creating salt paper prints of her own body and a recorded projection on draped muslin.
The very act of staging a life, creating connections between personal history, migration, dislocation as well as anchoring oneself to a sense of impermanence, emerges in the work of Arpan Mukherjee. His longer practice of printmaking in Shantiniketan compels him to use different vintage photographic processes to communicate a sense of change as well as leave behind an archival trace. The archive as an ever-growing entity includes what we know but also what we have not seen. Hence, the works of Indu Antony, part of the Bangalore-based artist collective, Kanike, then investigate and trace images of anonymous women found in heaps of discarded material. She reclaims their place in the world as active, engaged participants with agency, but uses a photographic technique that will cause the images to fade in time.
The French Ambassador to India, Emmanuel Lenain said, “The birthplace of photography, France has always supported the practice and development of photography across the world, including India. For many years, this medium has contributed to the cultural relationship between our two countries, and ‘Unsealed Chamber: Transient Image’ is one of many examples of these special ties.