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Exhibition celebrating World Photography Day shows unique facets of Karnataka and Goa

LiveMint logoLiveMint 18-08-2017 Tanuj Kumar

In 1839, the Frenchman Louis Daguerre changed the course of photography by inventing the eponymous daguerreotype process, the first commercially available developing process. On 19 August that year, the French government purchased the process patent and presented it as a gift “free to the world”. Almost two centuries on, in 2010, the date was chosen to mark World Photography Day.

To mark the day, the Delhi-based Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts mounts an exhibition every year. This year, it features works by Krish Bhalla, a documentary photographer, in Edges Of India: Karnataka & Goa.

It documents the stories of the two states, enriched over the years by the intermingling of cultures, and juxtaposes present and past, traditional and modern, coastal and inland. Weaving a socioeconomic and cultural tale of the region, Bhalla points his lens at everything from fishing ports and coffee plantations to Tibetan incense makers and carpet weavers. “I had to be so quick I couldn’t even use my flash when I needed it,” he says, crediting the role played by serendipity.

Women working on ‘khaden’ in Bylakuppe, Karnataka. Courtesy Krish Bhalla

Bhalla’s pictures enliven moments which may otherwise seem mundane, be it the piercing image of a farmer at a coffee plantation, whose face emerges out of the dense green foliage, or the women absorbed in making the Tibetan khaden rug. “I felt that people living in cities are living in cocoons in this country. They are absolutely immune, and shielded from the harsh realities that affect a lot of people—who barely have the things we take for granted and hardly get any recognition,” says Bhalla.

“To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed”, wrote Susan Sontag in her celebrated essay on photography, but Bhalla’s incisive yet detached photographs seem poised to be the exception to her rule.

Edges Of India: Karnataka & Goa is on till 29 August, 10am-6pm, Twin Art Gallery, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Janpath. For details, visit www.ignca.nic.in

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