untitled design

India on display: 500 photographs and works to love it in Trieste

We set sail from Trieste for a trip to India that appeals to those who have already been there and that arouses a lot of curiosity in everyone else. To the Warehouse of Ideas in fact it has just opened the first major exhibition ever held in our country dedicated to the last seventy years of India’s life. Something like 500 shots are on display, as well as videos and installations, to give an idea of ​​the vastness of the project. We immediately liked the idea of India today. 17 photographers from Independence to the present day (edited by Filippo Maggia, production is by ERPAC) who chose a visual story to summarize the journey from the post-colonial past, with all the difficulty in leaving behind the link with England, and the desire for a future with the boom of new technologies, luxury and mass tourism, all in a jarring centrifuge of misery and poverty.

See more

Vanity Fair Stories is approaching: to register click here

Appointment at the Lirico theater in Milan on 25 and 26 November


India: photographs that tell the story of the country

Where to start, then, for such a complex story? From Gandhi, Obviously. Not since Mahatmabut from Kanugrandson, expert photographer who portrayed the great Indian politician in public and private in the years in which he professed civil disobedience, traveling by train from one city to another and meeting politicians and militants, collecting extraordinary images like this one that we show you:

Khanu Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi in the riot affected area of ​​Noakhali /Mahatma Gandhi in the riot affected area of ​​Noakhali, November/November 1946 Courtesy The Estate of Kanu Gandhi & PHOTOINK

Decade after decade we follow India in all its eagerness to free itself from British rule: there are the shots of Pablo Bartholomew that tell the cities of Delhi, Bombay And Calcutta with the enthusiasm of a youth ready to eat up the future while he photographs it Sheba Chhachhiactivist and chronicler of the Indian feminist movement, testifies to the vivacity of women between the seventies and eighties.

With the 2000s the exhibition – and with it our journey – changes pace: on the one hand there is a country seduced by new technology and the possibility of development, on the other there is a (large) part of the population that remains back and this is where the magnifying glass of some of the best contemporary photographers falls. If the India of the New Millennium sheds its skin, asks and obtains to sit at the table with the “greats of the earth”, there are pockets of poverty and misery that not even the sequins of the films of Bollywood they can hide. Well done, very good photographers selected in Trieste, so capable of portraying the lost, amazed and enraptured faces of men and women (you can see one in the opening image) who attend the screening of films under the improvised tents of traveling cinemas, women queuing to fetch water, others still dressed in traditional clothing, rigidly divided by caste. Look at the next three photographs of Vinit GuptaOf Amit Madheshiya And Sunil Gupta: Don’t they look like they’re taken from films good for Netflix? And instead they show us today’s India for what it really is and which perhaps a trip “in search of the Maharaja” is not always able to fully grasp.

Vinit Gupta, from/from If a tree falls in a forest ©Vinit Gupta

Amit Madheshiya, da/from Cinema Travellers2010-2014, courtesy Amit Madheshiya & PHOTOINK

Amit Madheshiya

Sunil Gupta, from Country portrait of an Indian village, 2011-2023 Images courtesy the artist and Hales Gallery, Matèria Gallery, Stephen Bulger Gallery and Vadehra Art Gallery. © Sunil Gupta. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2023

© Sunil Gupta

India, unusual itinerary

The Trieste exhibition offers us a unusual itinerary, made up more of faces than landscapes, more of personal stories than monuments to photograph. Among the many, two are the ones that struck us the most. There is India’s Vicky Roy, which is made up of children and children with tattered clothes and half-broken shoes who run, laugh and occasionally do some theft, trying above all to survive themselves. They are adults without ever having experienced childhood and apparently carefree shots like the one below must not make us forget the unresolved drama of Indian society that records over ten million orphaned Indian children or abandoned people living on the streets begging.

Vicky Roy, Mumbai, Maharashta, India, from/from Bachpan2018 ©Vicky Roy

The second story has as its protagonist Anita Khemka: his almost theatrical shotswith bright colors and faces that we will hardly forget, show the lives of people with delicacy and humanity Hijra, transsexuals, protagonists of popular legends and traditional tales for centuries and yet still forced to live on the margins of an increasingly excluding society. Precisely for this reason we like to conclude this journey into today’s India which started from our Trieste by observing the proud gaze of the Hijras who are portrayed in these last two photographs.

Anita Khemka, da/from Laxmi, 2003-2020, © Anita Khemka


Anita Khemka, da/from Laxmi, 2003-2020, © Anita Khemka

Source: Vanity Fair

You may also like

Get the latest

Stay Informed: Get the Latest Updates and Insights


Most popular