The Problem and Power of Color in Indian Photography (ACSAA Symposium)

Sophia Powers's picture
Call for Papers
June 1, 2019
California, United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Fine Arts, South Asian History / Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

The Problem and Power of Color in Indian Photography

(Discussant: Natasha Eaton, UCL)


“Colorful India” as an orientalist stereotype has been fed, in part, by the proliferation of dazzling chromatic photographic representations on the part of travel advertisements and popular periodicals such as national geographic. Yet the shifting significance of color in photographic representations of South Asia is remarkably nuanced. Early practitioners of photography sought to bring color into their black and white or sepia pictures through the addition of lavish adornment and painted pigments. Raghubir Singh, among India’s most established modern photographers has written extensively on the significance, and indeed necessity, of capturing color in the formation of a uniquely Indian photographic tradition. Singh’s writing draws on a range of ancient Indian aesthetic theories in which conceptions of color played a central role. Yet many of India’s most significant contemporary photographers such as Raghu Rai, Dayanita Singh, Sheba Chhachhi and Gauri Gill largely forego color photography in favour of black and white. This panel aims to explore the status of tone and color (or lack thereof) across South Asian photographic traditions from the earliest inception of the medium up to the present day.


Abstract sumbission date: June 1, 2019

Conference dates: November 7 - 9, 2019

Please include a brief c.v. with your abstract.

Contact Info: 

Sophia Powers

Lecturer, Art History, University of Auckland

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