September 2009, Exhibit (A) @ Tao Art Gallery


Kushal Ruia, Haven, 2009

Exhibit (A), 2009 at Tao Art Gallery with Photographer’s Guild of India (PGI)
Mumbai, India
September 5 through 14, 2009


On Photography: Contemporary Images from Mumbai

I recently connected with Contemporary Photographer, Bhairavi Parikh, about covering a photo exhibition in Mumbai. Due to obvious geographical circumstances, Parikh and I arranged a remote experience via archival images and video that resulted in a long-distance art investigation. The following is an interpretation of the exhibition that took place at Tao Art Gallery in conjunction with the Photographer’s Guild of India (PGI) earlier this month.  

Exhibit (A) is a collaborative group exhibition held annually in Mumbai. This year’s installation consists of thirty-four art professionals, ten assistants, and sixteen art students, all working in the medium of photography. The concept behind this presentation centers on the notion of art industry workers and photography students as reputable artists. Aside from apprentices and students, everyone participating in Exhibit (A) is a working professional in his / her respective field. Most of the artists work in commercial realms and freelance photography. As stated in PGI’s press release, “The work in the show represents the soul of the artist, driven purely by passion and instinct and not by the rigid guidelines of commercial / advertising photography.”  

The Indian art world views its professional photographers as technical agents rather than visual artists. The show’s premise highlights the photographer as artistic producer and collaborator. The other guiding force in the exhibition is advocacy, a sort of activist logic that elevates consciousness and supports group sentiments on photography. In New York, Alfred Stieglitz was one of the first photographer’s to advocate for the medium. Writing during the first half of the 20th Century, Stieglitz symbolizes the struggle for photography’s position within the visual arts, “As I hold the future well-being of photography very dear, I must see to it that these forces which militate against it be opposed and destroyed.”  

As artistic communicators, the participants of the exhibition seek to become the medium, the tools they choose to construct knowledge helps them to express their messages. The visual artists in Mumbai employ photographic images that relate to all forms of human experience. Subjects range in a variety of interests—from abstract compositions and landscape investigations to portraiture and human activity. Selected images are those that speak to these disparate processes and use discursive interpretations that highlight more than their professional pursuits.  

Exhibit (A) represents a powerful expression of sixty different ideas and subjects for the advancement of one artistic practice. The works displayed within the show are clearly expressions of each artist’s personal interests in composed subject matter. For example, Rohan d’Souza’s Dress Circle, 2009, is an abstract image of a human form taken from an aerial position that plays on visual perception that deceives the eye at first glance. The image mysteriously makes the viewer question its subject. In Vishesh Verma’s Untitled, 2009, the viewer is made to understand formal beauty in contrast to elements that do not go together, e.g. a baby alligator and an enchanting topless female figure. Exhibit (A)’s deliberate move to highlight alternative ideas and unconventional subjects reveals the artist’s desire to liberate their work from any preconceived notions of what constitutes a commercial photographer. This show successfully conveys the message that there is more to a professional photographer than the ability to create mainstream work.

 


Saish Kambli, Untitled, 2009

 


Rohan D'Souza, Dress Circle, 2009

 


Atul Kasbekar, Monkey Boy, 2009

 


Riddhibrata Burman, For Love, Sex and Violence, 2009

 


Sohrab Davar, His Own World, 2009

 


Vishesh Verma, Untitled, 2009

 


Bhairavi Parikh, Saswad Series, 2009

 

Keith Brown is a visual artist, designer, writer and educator living and working in Chicago. Born in LouisvilleKentucky, he moved to Chicago in 2006 to pursue graduate studies in art, theory and practice. In 2007, he received a masters' degree in Art Education from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago with concentrations in Art History, Theory, Criticism and Museum Studies. In 2003, he received his bachelors’ degree in Fine Arts from the University of Kentucky with concentrations in Figure Drawing, Graphic Design and Art History.  wkeithbrown@gmail.com

 

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