Created in 1956, the photo archives of the IFP/EFEO contain a diverse collection of photographs ranging from archaeological monuments, temples, religious artifacts and sculpture to scenes of everyday life, studio portraits and cityscapes. The inauguration of a new physical archival space for the photo archives is an occasion to celebrate the continuous growth and evolution of this archive.
Stories from the Dark Room engages with the archive’s collections as well as the technologies, processes, and spaces that have given the archive its current form. It attends to how things enter the archive; how collections have been stored, indexed, accessed and experienced; and the research and scientific productions they have facilitated over the years.
Temple Stories engages the photo archive collection of temple photographs. It places these images within the context of large scale multidisciplinary studies of South Indian temples undertaken by researchers of the Institut Français de Pondichéry (IFP) and the École française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO). By juxtaposing photographs with architectural drawings, epigraphs and sociological and archaeological research, it explores how photographs find new meanings through their connections with other forms of representation.
The dark room is central to the practice of film photography. It is in the enclosed space of the dark room that the external world captured on film is transformed into the photographic object. Process Stories recreates the sensory experience of the dark room as a metaphor for the many layers of processing undergone by the photographic image. It celebrates the successes of the photo archive – its publications and scientific production, for instance – as well as the false starts, failures, mistakes and hard-learned lessons that are an intrinsic part of the archival venture.
Photo Stories shifts curatorial focus towards the social and technological history of photography by delving into the stars.archive, a one-of-its-kind physical and digital archive of Tamil commercial studio photography from 1880-1980. Focusing on the different technical innovations and experiments developed by commercial photo studios, the exhibit offers snapshots of the conjoined histories of technological changes and the changing social function of studio photography in Tamil society over a hundred year period.
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