A subject peripheral to pedagogy in India for much of the 20th century, photography has charted its own course through photo studios, family albums, newspapers and galleries. THE ARCHIVAL GAZE: A TIMELINE OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN INDIA, 1840s-2020 (Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Rs 4,700) — edited by Gayatri Sinha — condenses over 170 years of history of image-making in India and is meant to be a companion piece to the 15 exhaustive essays on the subject that constitute Pointsof View: Defining Moments of Photography in India.
Interestingly, Archival Gaze picks the purely visual and informal format of a timeline instead of a chronological presentation. In doing so, it records history, events and names without hierarchising them. Another striking factor is the predominance of blackand-white and sepia-toned photos. Muted shades can, at times, reveal a lot about a nation associated with dazzling colours.