Returning the Gaze: From the Colonial to the Contemporary

Annu Palakunnathu Matthew. Feather Indian/Dot Indian, from the series An Indian From India, 2008-2009, leather-bound album with digital prints backed by archival gold paper. Courtesy of the artist and the Museum of Art and Photography (MAP), Bangalore.

In the early history of photography in South Asia it was often the case that the subjects of photographs had their identities thrust upon them rather than being complicit in the act of taking of the photograph and those who were holding the camera were guided by either purposefully political agendas or subconscious bias.

This exhibition examines the work of seven contemporary photographers from the collection of the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), in Bangalore – Indu Antony, Anoli Perera, Gauri Gill, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Michael Bühler-Rose, Pushpamala N. & Clare Arni – whose work overcomes or directly responds to some of the issues and legacies of colonial and foreign representation, and instead carves a new and more diverse path for photography in the region, and one in which women became more visible on both sides of the camera. The contemporary work on display is shown alongside a range of early colonial photography on the subcontinent, from which much of it departs, forming a dialogue between the past and present, and revealing some of the influences of 21st century practice.

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