The Right to Look – I – Selected by Amit Kumar Jain

From the Saloni Doshi Collection

The Right to Look curated by Amit Kumar Jain, was an exhibition that featured for the first time, a large body of photographic works of artists including Pushpamala N, Nikhil Chopra, Jyoti Bhatt, Vivan Sundaram, and others from the Saloni Doshi Collection.

There is an arcane yet palpable aura that surrounds a photograph. It is aesthetic, historical, circumstantial – or entirely accidental. It continuously tries to escape, for we have shot it, captured it. It obfuscates perception, taunting us by asking, ‘Is your reality more beautiful now that you’ve photographed it?’ It thrives on frustration, mocking our despair for constantly seeking the right moment; and yet, it is always there for us. Look closer: this aura is of choice. It is that moment in time when we decide to frame an event for a future that lasts forever. It is a love endured over decades (‘Do you remember when we clicked this?’), a maddening obsession that embarrasses the professional wine-taster with the candid alcoholic (‘Just one more picture!’). It is a right to look – at an event, a metaphor, a memory. But does a photograph equally present us with a right to be seen?

Borrowing from the visual theorist Nicholas Mirzoeff, such an intimacy – of looking and being looked at – becomes definitive here. At the core of this exhibition lies a dominion of vulnerabilities; challenging our ways of seeing, these are photographs that meditate on the question of agency, identity, and anxiety, becoming what Italo Calvino called ‘fragments of private images, against the creased background of massacres and coronations.’ Whether spontaneous or manufactured, they leave us with a haunting: no longer simply a two-dimensional print, we encroach upon a moment of privacy and trepidation. It is a voyeurism of discomfort where artists like Nikhil Chopra and Pushpamala N gaze back, challengingly; a performance of lives wished for, of perspectives decentered that Anay Mann and Tejal Shah reintroduce; a material negotiation of life where Surekha and Madhu Das locate the body as a site of contestation with nature and the universe; a visual absurdity and psychological distortion of who we are that Shreyas Karle and Priyank Gothwal deliberate upon; and a frank realisation of life around us, of tender smiles and moving livelihoods that Jyoti Bhatt and Akshay Mahajan signify – this is your moment to look; don’t shy away from being looked at.

I see you, do you see me?

Audio-Visual Experience

The Audio-Visual Experience for collection The Right To Look – I will lead you through an immersive experience of the collections from anywhere in the world.

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