Thursday, October 3, 2013

Review - Home Street Home -Vicky's Stepping Stone to Success But.. and more..

Home.Street.Home: Vicky’s Stepping Stone to Success But...
JohnyML reviews the recently published book of Vicky Roy’s Photographs by Nazar Foundation.
( Home Street Home -By Vicky Roy)
At the age of twenty five Vicky Roy is a few solo shows and several group shows old, photography artist. Now he has an anthology of his works published by the Nazar Foundation, an initiative of Prashant Panjiar and Dinesh Khanna, two Delhi based photographers and photography activists, who are behind the internationally noticed Delhi Photo Festival. Titled ‘Home.Street.Home’, this book, between its covers contains the hallmark images that Vicky has made during his formative years as a photography artist. It also has a small autobiographical note written by the artist himself, touching for its candidness and verve. Nazar Foundation calls it, the first in Nazar Photography Monographs. That means, we can expect a series of monographs like this from the foundation. Considering the fact that our photography scenario is full of monographs and coffee table books of the established and well-known photographers, this monograph is a welcoming change. However, Vicky is not less established. His life is something that dreams are made of.
(Vicky Roy, Johny ML and others at the visit to the television studio)
Personally speaking, I do not want to repeat the same story of Vicky that has been recounted by many including myself at different platforms in different guises. I had even made a (pre-planned) surprise visit to a television studio where Vicky was being interviewed. I was invited as one amongst those people who had noticed Vicky’s talent at an early stage of his career. As I entered, he got up, showing surprise and myself, showing so much happiness, as per the script of the program producer. Even if it was not for a television program that sold desires and dreams to the middle class and the lower middle class, telling them constantly that you too could make it, I would have happily embraced Vicky anywhere. I have observed Vicky growing from strength to strength; working very hard to make it, serving a social purpose through his organisation Rang along with Chandan Gomes , meeting the right people and singing the right tunes. That’s why he was invited to speak at the TED platform. They want to hear that rags to riches story of Vicky. 
( Vicky Roy at the TED lecture)
I will say it in two lines: Born to a poor family, Vicky, at the age of eleven ran away from home and reached New Delhi. He did menial jobs to survive until he was found out by the Salam Balak Trust that sheltered and educated him till he could stand on his own. You may throw in any amount of suspense, tragedy, comedy and hair-raising, handle clutching episodes in between to make his story more palatable. Vicky gives certain clues in his writing and now you are free to develop it further. 
( A Photography work by Vicky Roy)
Some hold words, some colors, some sounds, some movements and yet some images captured by a camera so closer to their hearts, just to forget the past and survive the present and invest in the future. It is an escape route, a way to forget, a way to remember even and above all a way to leave traces as a covert ploy against the bad fate. These mediums provide them with the right kind of vantage point and distance from where they could see life in its entirety. They could see, register, sleep and dream from there. Vicky’s choice was camera. Not so good at studies (according to his own confession he has barely passed tenth class with 48% marks) Vicky saw his salvation in the camera. He thought camera would take him to places. And it did take him. He was invited to the WTC Ground Zero to work as a photographer for six months followed by an exhibition at the American Culture Centre, New Delhi.
(A photography work by Vicky Roy)
While I do feel happy for Vicky and his achievements, I strongly wish that this should be the last book for a long time to come about his not-so-palatable past.  That Vicky of the streets is now a past which has been essentially captured and featured in this book. It is now time for Vicky to go beyond it. Tracing a vagabond, a run-away kid in any image that he makes would be a futile exercise. And succumbing to that pressure, if at all he does, would eventually ruin his creative career. So far I have not seen Vicky going back to his past at least in his images. But the pressure on him is tremendous to be ‘there’ in the streets. When we talk about other famous photography artists we do not talk about their childhood experiences as ‘future’ photographers (with painters and sculptors, even with politicians and writers, it is different). For example, when we see Raghu Rai’s or Jyoti Bhatt’s picture we do not connect them with their childhood experiences. Then why only with Vicky? Does his photographic verve begin and end him being a run-away kid?
( A photography work by Vicky Roy)
I warn every artist and activist who want to tie their creative prowess to a particular mode or interest; they are bound to be pushed out of history. Let us take the case of Chandramohan, who shot up to fame in 2007 for his scandalous (for one section of the society) depiction of gods and goddesses in Baroda. Now he is struggling to make both ends meet. This is going to be the case with those artists who came to the scene because they got involved in certain areas of personal or social life and registered their complaints/protests/responses/reactions in their respective mediums. They are bound to be out of the history. But it is not the case with those artists who show aesthetic finesse mingled with historical perspective. There are photography artists who have consistently followed one subject or community or issue throughout their lives. But that just does not make them great artists. If they are, their works have aesthetic value beyond documentary mission. 
( A photography work by Vicky Roy)
Hence, let us leave Vicky free of his past. May be when he is around 50 years old, that is exactly a quarter of a century after this date, and I will be seventy years old, happily retired to forests, we should think about his past as a run-away kid. Now let him live an independent, responsible and dignified human being’s life with his wonderful friends and gorgeous fiancée, Ashna Sharma.  This book is a landmark in Vicky’s career. But it should not be his touchstone. Considering the prolific nature of photography and the output of prodigious photographers, we should say, Vicky needs to go a long way to realise himself. This book is a step and let it be a stepping stone. 

Sabavala Memorial lecture- II

The Jehangir Sabavala Foundation presents its second edition of an ongoing memorial lectures series. The lecture is focused on the relationship between Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore and Japanese art historian and curator Okakura Tenshin.

The lecture will be conducted by Rustom Bharucha on the 4th October 2013 at 6:30 pm at The Visitors Centre, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai. The lecture is hosted by Shirin and Aafreed Sabavala.

Stories of Invocation
(A work by Rini Dhumal)
Tao art gallery, Mumbai presents a two persons show titled, ‘Stories of Invocation’. On display are the exquisite works of artists Rini Dhumal and Seema Kohli who are the eminent women artists in the country today. 

The show, jointly curated by Kalpana Shah and Sapna Kar, tries to invoke the sacred feminine through the art works. Vibrant, bold, intense and intricately detailed, both the artists’ works are narrative in style with specific stories and fables related to the various goddesses in Indian mythology and their manifestations.

The show previews on 5th October and will be on view till 15th October 2013.

Miss Butterfly
(A photography work by Shadi Ghadirian)
Lakeeren art gallery, Mumbai, presents a solo show of photography works by Iranian artist, Shadi Ghadirian, titled ‘ Miss Butterfly’. The show displays black and white photography works of the Tehran based woman artist, which question the international preconceptions of the roles women play in an Islamic state.

Drawing from her own experiences of a modern woman living under doctrines of the Shariah law, the artist portrays women as a positive holistic female identity even while they perform traditionally predefined roles. In her images the spider web is an allegorical representation to the social structures of Iran.

Shadi Ghadirian has studied photography in the Azad University Iran and has been exhibiting in various galleries across the world.

The show is on view till 8th November 2013.

English Magic
(Jeremy Deller)
The Mumbai Art Room presents a screening of the film ‘English Magic : a film by Jeremy Deller’ previewing on the 10th October 2013 from 6:00 - 9:00 pm. The preview is open to public of the exhibition, English Magic: A film by Jeremy Dellyer. 

English Magic looks at both the dark and light sides of British culture, reveling in present-day contradictions with abandon. This work has been the focal point of the artist’s installation in the British Pavilion of this year’s Venice Biennale.

Jeremy Deller is a London based artist and has been making art works and showing them in unconventional galleries. His work encompasses film, video, installations, community projects and public sculptures.

The  film screening will be on view till 23rd November 2013.

(News reports by Sushma Sabnis)

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