The Focus Trail
To add to the quick Thursday evening preview of Gedney in India at the Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation, the following Monday we continued gallery hopping across some more locations that are part of FOCUS Photography Festival’s itinerary. We started with Nihon: Iteration #1 at Kala Ghoda Cafe — where a cup of coffee and a quick bite played the perfect accompaniments as we admired the frames that hung on walls around us. With GPS leading the way, we soon found ourselves at The Rampart Gallery, where a simple line of street installations showcased The Bodyguard Lane Album — an array of images that encapsulated homelessness in urban India.
Walking into the adjoining Gallery MMB (Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai) we came across Sooni Taraporevala’s aptly titled My Analogue World. The widespread space held captivating images taken during her travels within India and abroad. Not only did we see works that introduced us to various social and community settings, the images provided interesting anecdotes and covered a vast timeline.
Next we hiked to Chemould Prescott Road where Access Time included three exhibitions — That Photo We Never Got, by Shilpa Gupta in collaboration with Asia Art Archive; The Photograph is Proof, by Anusha Yadav (The Memory Company); and Some Portraits, curated by Devika Daulet-Singh, Photoink, with works by Pablo Bartholomew, Richard Bartholomew, Madan Mahatta, Ram Rahman, Sadanand Menon, Ketaki Sheth, and Sooni Taraporevala. While all three projects on show were equally stunning, what caught our eye the most was The Photograph is Proof. Bringing into the light some criminal investigations from the 19th and 20th century, the curations showcased some thrilling visual evidence records and images.
Google Maps helped us with the distance to our next destination, which was a 15-minute walk back to right where we started! We stopped for a chocolate brownie from Sleight of Hand and later reached Tarq Art Gallery. Gallerina Hena Kapadia’s space had on display acclaimed artist Waswo X. Waswo’s Photowallah. While the hand-painted prints of series’ A Studio in Rajasthan and New Myths were all worth admiring, the pictures of Gauri Dancers and the incarnations of mythological figures are ones you shouldn’t miss.
Next, we made our way to the charming Akara Art gallery tucked away in a building that looked like it belonged to a different era. At the gallery, the exhibition titled Masterji consisted of mainly black and white, and a few coloured shots captured by Maganbhai Patel, fondly known as Masterji. His subjects comprised of migrant workers who he preferred to photograph as confident well-dressed individuals rather than ill-fated migrants. It was especially interesting to see portraits of Indians in traditional wear with hints of western attire – a winter coat, dresses, and ties, a few inches too long!
Back to the sweltering heat, we traversed one vintage area after another and were transported back to old ‘Bombay’. At Sakshi Art Gallery, Nandan Ghiya revisited old photographs by adding a twist — he pixellated parts of the images to highlight the beauty of glitches. Set against the background of stunning hues, it was a lovely transition from Masterji’s monochromes. This gallery is also a few metres away from Theobroma, and we knew that it was time for a coffee and butty stop.
Sufficiently stuffed (never mind the calories, it’s a trail after all), we headed yonder to The Viewing Room. Olivia Arthur and Bharat Sikka collaborated to give glimpses of the body in its most self-aware yet nonchalant state. The queer and wonderful humans of Brighton and Mumbai filled the frame, their mood and sexual dilemmas reflected in a thought-provoking series of images.
Less than a minute after we walked away from the Causeway, the road transformed into a more cramped, colourful and noisy version of itself. It was bewildering how rapidly the landscape seemed to change its appearance. The trek to Project 88 was well worth it. Posters of old books transported us to another era— nostalgia does work in strange ways. Flowers sandwiched between the pages of a book, a tram token here, a bus ticket there…it was all in the pages. It was incredible how we spent an entire afternoon, not buried in a book, but rather staring at beautifully captured images of paperbacks.
FOCUS Photography Festival Mumbai 2017 is on at various venues across the city till March 23, 2017. Visit www.focusfestivalmumbai.com for details.