[Reader-list] Of Urban Localities and Bazaar(s) Photography

Rahaab Allana lonequest_2k at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 25 21:02:39 IST 2002

Dear All,
My proposal. Feel free to comment.

Of Urban Localities and Bazaar(s) Photography

1) As opposed to the established, tangible and
conceivably ?static? cosmopolitan city, Bazaar
(kinetic) complexes exhibit a tendency to change with
the passage of time, an element through which they are
able to incorporate space, people, behaviors and
therefore even traditions (of art in particular, but
of any saleable object or practice in general). One of
my intentions is to investigate their organic nature,
their enmeshed rural and commercial strains; a place
where things are bought and sold, used and supplied.  

Are there clear divisions in a city or do its portions
and localities fuse unhindered by people, production,
walls (concrete)? Are there divisions within urban
complexes which can be realised at the visual level
when considering the position or (dis)placement of the
Bazaar in a state such as Delhi? These are perhaps
some of the questions the project seeks to address and
illustrate with slides. 

The aim is not to find a conclusive answer but utilize
and discuss visible differences or points of
interrelation between ways of ?seeing? (viewer
oriented), ?showing? (the image) and ?telling? (the

2) There are photographs of people(s) and place(s) and
inversely, those who take photographs in these areas
for/of the public, who adumbrate their own lineage to
history, to a dynamic that exists in the history of
photography. For instance, colour tinting on
photographs (still practiced in Mahatta Studios among
others in Old Delhi), seen in the development of
photography as an art-form rather than a mere mode of
documentation, illustrates a similar capacity (as do
market complexes) to expand and overcome the
boundaries of the medium (circumscribed zones). They
are touched up, virtually like the Bazaars which
contain an internal mutability whereby things are
re-arranged making them less and less known, but ever
available for the visitor/viewer. Therefore, in part,
to show how photography gives meaning to facts (about
subject and object) and the nature of those

2b) To diagnose, with a fresh set of images, the
practice of dated forms in photography and how, and
possibly why, they survive today in particular
localities. Those images that withstand the current of
time, such as portraiture and scenery are relevant
here. This would involve the relations between
producers and consumers, hierarchies in society, the
process of ?making? an image rather than simply
replicating a pre-given reality, i.e. of all that one
sees through the view finder. Accessing the niche in
history pertaining to the application of the camera
with shifting tendencies between the photographer and
?patron? (consumer) and discerning what kind of a
dialog exists today.

3) Photography, I should mention here, personifies a
downward filtration, from the upper strains of
society, evident in the colonial era, to commonplace
events and the common man. Similarly, the kinds of
images shot and developed still maintain certain link
to the past. I will attempt to highlight some of those
features within their present context, trying to, at
the visual level, supply some kind of an Iconological
explanation i.e. its cultural implications.

The overall intention is not only to speak of the
experience of photography within Delhi and
particularly the Bazaars, but to create an appendix of
images that stand on their own, creating a language of
signifiers for which they are the signified, i.e. as
images of a symptom, which Bazaars are when imagined
within the context of urban India.  Finally, I seek to
return to the initial subject, that is, the
experiences of and in the Bazaar at the visual level
with the aid of individuals from the Bazaars that
will, for a particular ?episteme? of photography, try
to exemplify their structure and scope in the city. 

A hypothetical schedule for the specified duration (6
Months) is as follows:

a) Field work and analysis of the structural and
spatial dimensions of Bazaar complexes (adding to
those mentioned earlier, Malvia Nagar, Sarojini Nagar
Market, Pottery Lane in Saket, as opposed to those
that are more like malls; Nehru Place, Ansal Plaza and
even C.P.)
b) Interaction with store holders and individuals who
display their wares about the pursuit of their
particular services or goods, especially photographers
and developers, in order to illustrate popular taste
and the pursuit of particular genres and techniques.  
c) A more comprehensive research based on the
construction and institutionalization of Delhi during
the early part of the 20th Century, juxtaposed with
the ratio of organized/unorganized sectors with a
comparative study based on 1 or more metropolitan
cities, eg. Mumbai, Calcutta.

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