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India: Public Places, Private Spaces


India: Public Places, Private Spaces is the featured exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. This exhibit displays the work of 28 artists who provide an insight into the contemporary psyche of Indians. Over 100 photographs and video art are showcased, allowing the viewer to gain insight to contemporary Indian artists’ view on topics such as India’s economic and political shift, caste systems, and the flip of cultural traditions. It was arranged by artist and by the different issues of modern-day India mixing photography and video art in the same space.

The theme of this exhibit is the exploration of the multiple dynamics that have shaped the current Indian psyche as viewed through the lens of the artist, which aims to interpret and influence. The works on display vary from photojournalism, for example a series of photos by Raghu Rai depict the death and funeral of India’s Prime Minister, Indira Ghandi, to photo manipulation that express the artists feelings and display very personal narratives.


The work of Pushpamala N, entitled “Phantom Lady or Kismet,? is a series of photographs that draw from familiar Indian iconography and structures found in Bollywood. The high contrast noir vignettes create a dramatic narrative, which reflect character archetypes found in Indian cinema. In fact what Pushpamala is doing is drafting commentary on popular Indian culture by dressing up as a Zorro clad heroine, this critiques popular culture while respecting historic visual art represented in photos and movies. The dramatic lighting style mimics competence found in Indian visual design and offers a wider comment on the media’s portrayal of female heroes.

India: Public Places, Private Spaces invites the viewers inside India and narrates a story of a transforming country where the people reexamine cultural traditions, sexuality, caste systems, and politics. I would recommend going to see this exhibit.