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Fusion art taking a dig at the Orientalist

An art exhibition showcasing works by American born photographer Waswo X. Waswo, in collaboration with Rajasthani miniaturist Rajesh Soni and traditional terracotta sculptor Shyam Lal Kumhar, is open for viewing at a Delhi-based gallery till September 28.

Part portraiture from Waswo and Soni’s well-known Studio in Rajasthan series, and part spoof on both the studio process and the photographer himself – this exhibition by Gallery Latitude 28 calls attention to the place of performance, or the “stage”, upon which studio photography is enacted.

The title, ‘We Are Always Working’, references the ongoing process Waswo and his studio engage in, both physically, as well as in a wider philosophical discourse concerning his practice and methods. The exhibition is curated by Bhavna Kakar.

Waswo X. Waswo’s career in India has spanned almost two decades, utilizing the medium of studio photography is a method of self-discovery, navigating between personal revelation and inspired fantasy. With traditionally hand-painted backdrops, the photographic studio became a quasi-diorama in which Waswo and his models playfully devised a series of tableaux. His elaborate processes, involving casting local people as ‘models’ in the photo shoots, are akin to co-operative theater performances.

Waswo’s sepia photographs, hand painted by Udaipur based photo hand colorist Rajesh Soni, take on a dream-like quality, which harks back to ethnographic photography of bygone eras while maintaining temporal roots in the contemporary. Interplay develops between the villagers who populate his work, the caricature of Waswo himself and ‘artefacts’, which he inspects under a magnifying glass.

As the protagonist of many of the photographs, dressed incongruously in a white suit and fedora hat, he takes on the role of ‘The Orientalist’, interspersed throughout the exhibition.

Source: IANS Life

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