The year 2022 is closing in on us, and Space118 is excited to announce that we will be opening the year with a show of abstract photographs by Raghu Rai, India’s greatest living photojournalist. “Born to Disappear”, curated by our founder-director Saloni Doshi, opens at the Piramal Art Gallery, NCPA, on January 7, and will give us a glimpse into Rai as an abstract artist. 

Through a series of images shot over the period of his long career but consigned to his archive until now, the idea for the show was born out of the vacuum caused by the pandemic-enforced lockdown. As he looked back into his archive of unused material, he came across images that somehow reflected the present – spaces where the human presence is almost insignificant, mere lines and shapes in an overall geometrical pattern.  

“Born to Disappear” will be a ten-day event where alongside the exhibition are planned curatorial walkthroughs, film screenings, and live sessions with Rai himself as he expounds on his life and career, his new show, and his views on abstraction.

Programme Guide:

  1. 7th – 16th Jan, ’22 –  Exhibition | Born to Disappear | Photographs by Raghu Rai | Curated by Saloni Doshi / 12-8 pm
  2. 7th Jan, ’22 – Preview – Born to Disappear | Photographs by Raghu Rai | Curated by Saloni Doshi / 12-8 pm
  3. 8th Jan, ’22 – Talk by Raghu Rai  in conversation with Saloni Doshi presented by the India Art Fair / 6-8 pm
  4. 11th and 13th Jan, ’22 – Film Screening of Raghu Rai: An Unframed Portrait (2017) directed by his daughter, Avani Rai / 6-8 pm
  5. 15th Jan, ’22 – Curatorial walkthrough with Saloni Doshi, Director Space118, and Varun Gupta, Co-founder, Chennai Photo Biennale presented by India Art fair during the Mumbai Gallery Weekend / 6.45 pm


 About Raghu Rai

Born in 1942, Raghu Rai initially trained as a civil engineer but in 1965 switched to photography, in a career move that would eventually come to define his legacy. In 1966, he joined The Statesman as Chief Photographer, a position he held until 1976. It was during this period that his ground-breaking work documenting the Bangladesh refugee crisis and the ensuing Indo-Pak war earned him the Padma Shri in 1972. That same year, an exhibition of his photographs in Paris impressed the legendary Henri-Cartier Bresson so much that he nominated Rai to Magnum Photos, the prestigious photographers’ cooperative. From 1977-80, he joined Sunday, a weekly news magazine, as Photo Editor.

Some of Rai’s most defining work would come during his tenure as Picture Editor-Visualizer-Photographer for India Today magazine from 1982-91. Among these were his photo essays on the Great Masters of Indian Classical Music and other luminaries such as Satyajit Ray and Mother Teresa. More importantly, his photographs of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy and its aftermath became the definitive images of the catastrophe. A series of exhibitions held across Europe, the Americas, and Southeast Asia became instrumental in garnering relief aid for the victims.

In a career that has lasted over five decades, Rai has had his work published in Time Magazine, Life, National Geographic, Le Monde, Die Welte, NYT, Sunday Times London, Newsweek, and many other publications. In 1992, he was awarded Photographer of the Year in the USA for his story “Human Management of Wildlife in India” in National Geographic Magazine. In 2009, the French Government conferred on him the Officer des Arts et des Lettres, and in 2018 was honoured by Lucie Foundation, New York as a Master of Photojournalism. In 2019, he became the first recipient of the Academie des Beaux-Arts Photography Award-William Klein.

About the curator- Saloni Doshi

Born to an entrepreneurial family, Saloni Doshi (b 1979), grew up in Delhi and graduated with a double honors degree in Politics and Economics at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, a Post Graduate Diploma in Social Communications Media at the Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai, and then moved on to pursue her Master’s in Media and Communication at the London School of Economics, London. While employed with the Times of India (TOI), she also pursued a Diploma in Art Criticism and Theory (ACT) and Indian Art Aesthetics from Jnanapravaha, Mumbai.

Saloni began collecting art at age 25 and has amassed over 300 artworks since then. Incidentally, it was a trip to Baroda, where she witnessed art residences and their role in nurturing artistic creation that spurred the idea of creating a similar space of her own in a city that needed it the most. And in 2009, Space118 came into being.

Besides hosting residencies for 13 years and giving out grants to young artists for the past 3 years, Saloni has also curated three shows: Making Space: Celebrating 10 years of Space118 in 2019, All is Not Lost 20:20:20 in 2020 at Sakshi Gallery, and All That is Life in 2021 at Space118. Saloni has moderated several discussions on art residencies and art collecting and is currently working on a book, “Mapping Residencies in India”. She was the Founder Chairperson of the Bombay Chapter of Young FICCI Ladies Organization (YFLO) and is the current Chairperson for the London School of Economics Alumni in Bombay. In 2016, Saloni was awarded the prestigious ArtThinkSouthAsia (ATSA) Fellowship sponsored by Khoj, British Council, and the Goethe Institute.

Covid safety protocols/guidelines at NCPA:

  • All staff/artists/crew/visitors/guests/customers to be fully vaccinated against Covid (Two doses + a 14-day interval after the second dose).
  • Visitors younger than 18 years will be considered vaccinated.
  • International travellers to the state shall be governed by directions of the Government of India in this respect. Domestic travellers shall either be fully vaccinated as defined herein or shall carry an RT–PCR test report valid for 72 hours.
  • Adequate physical distancing of at least 6 feet to be followed outside/ inside the auditoriums, lawn area, common and waiting areas at all times.
  • For visitors/guests, a double vaccination certificate is to be kept ready and presented at the main gate before entry into the NCPA.
  • List of vendors/labourers/artists/crew to be provided to the admin team with the final vaccination certificate along & their mobile numbers.