We’ve lost count of the number of times visitors to the Delhi Photo Festival (DPF) have asked us to recommend ongoing photography shows in the city. To simplify your quest for seeing the best of what’s currently on in the Capital, BLOUIN ARTINFO has created a list of exhibitions you shouldn’t miss, because each one of them is a sensual experience that attests to the power of photography.
1. “Through a Lens, By a Mirror, the Parsis (1977-2013),” Sooni Taraporevala
The result of 36 years of intense documentation, Taraporevala’s series is a tribute to her Parsi community — descendants of Iranian Zoroastrians who sought refuge in Gujarat, off India’s Western coast, sometime between the eight or 10th Century AD, many of whom made Mumbai their home and helped it in its evolution from an archipelago of seven islands to the country’s bustling financial capital. Taraporevala’s photographs reflect an intimate engagement with the notion of Parsihood, illustrating, through her fantastic, iconic images, how their identity, while affixed to a central religious belief, is the result of years of integration with Indian culture, which makes its utterances unique. Exceptionally arranged with the hallowed halls of the Jaipur House, this exhibition grows in significance with each subsequent viewing.
2. “A Certain Grace; The Sidi: Indians of African Descent,” Ketaki Sheth
Over five years, photographer Ketaki Sheth visited and documented the Sidis, Indians of African Descent who set up home in Gujarat centuries ago. Sheth, critically acclaimed for her Twinspotting series on the Patel twins across India and the U.K., began her ethnographic exploration of the community around 2004, when she discovered the Sidis by chance. “I was on a family holiday to the Gir in Gujarat, when we drove through a Sidi village, Sirwan, in the forest. It had been given to them by an erstwhile nawab in recognition of their services.” Shot in black-and-white, the silver gelatin prints on display are a testimony to Sheth’s exceptional skill with the camera and the relationships she managed to build with her subjects. Beautifully curated with the orange background of the accompanying photo book bearing the show’s title published by Photoink enhancing the display, this is certainly one of the best shows of 2013.
3. “Trees,” Raghu Rai
We have to confess, we enjoyed the book version of this body of work by one of India’s most celebrated photographers far more than the show. Still, the ongoing exhibition of Rai’s “Trees” at Photoink has some gorgeous prints that are indicative of the photographer’s penchant for nature, and the intensity of his engagement with the medium of black-and-white photography. Our favorite prints are the ones to the right of the entrance that are rather spectacular images of timeless trees. However, for a more nuanced sense of the level of detail present in these photographs, taken by the photographer over decades purely for pleasure during his many photojournalistic assignments, we recommend you buy the book, also published by Photoink and excellently produced by Pragati Press.
4. “The Eye of the Father and the Son: The Photography of Hugo and Diego Cifuentes,”
This treat of a show brings together select photographs by Hugo Cifuentes, considered the Father of Ecuadorian contemporary photography, and his son Diego. “The work I am presenting is the result of the last two years, when I had to remake my artwork again in 2010, under quite confusing circumstances, I had lost all my archive that contained the work of almost 30 years,” writes Diego Cifuentes in his artist statement. He describes his father as a “man of his time” who was close to magic realism, “whereas I try to have a more intense proximity to my sorrows and my demons, without forgetting the great lesson that photography is nothing more than the “bastard sister” of literature.
5. PIX’s “Iran: Interiors”
Siddhartha Hall, Max Mueller Bhavan
Easily the photography quarterly PIX’s best shows to date, this exhibition offers a glimpse into “Interiors,” the recently launched Iran-special issue that brings together 14 established and upcoming Iranian photographers working within and outside Iran. “Derived from a cinema and screen-writing term, which is used to separate outdoor and indoor scenes, the photographs investigate notions of amnesia, censorship, and identity through documentary, as well as staged formats,” reads the blurb for the issue. “The photographers associate closely with a cultural bipolarity—living a double life due to societal pressure—thereby articulating their private lives and hopes in visual form. The ideas underlying their works range from encounters with the state, to a re-assessment of one’s private life—an aspect that mirrors the desires of a society, constrained to limit its freedom(s) of expression due to political reasons.” This show will leave you elated, moved, and inspired, like much of Iranian literature and cinema.
Check out our slideshow with images by each of the featured Iranian photographers