This event celebrates the publication of Postdate: Photography and Inherited History in India and the exhibition of the same title, on view at the San Jose Museum of Art, California, this summer and then on national tour. In considering the role of the artist as researcher, collector, activist, and documentarian, this panel examines the complex relationship between traditions of representation in India and contemporary practices of image-making. The panelists also discuss the challenges for artists who are both committed to located histories in India and an engagement in transnational discourse.
Two generations after the exultation of Independence and the concurrent horrors of Partition, contemporary artists mine the uneasy history of photography in India as a means to challenge outmoded narratives, share hidden stories, and make personal connections with tradition.
Taking history into their own hands, figures such as Nandan Ghiya, Gauri Gill, Jitish Kallat, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Madhuban Mitra and Manas Bhattacharya, Pushpamala N., Raqs Media Collective, Vivan Sundaram, and Surekha draw on a diverse range of sources, from ethnographic photographs made at the height of the British occupation to hand-painted studio portraits and stills from Bollywood movies. Weighing the influence of the global against the draw of the local, these artists embrace tradition and innovation as covalent rather than competitive forces. Marking the US debut of several of the featured artists, Postdate: Photography and Inherited History in India deepens our understanding of the legacy of colonialism and celebrates new and socially engaged modes of image-making in South Asia.