This year marks the 70th anniversary of Indian independence, and London’s Science Museum is celebrating with two major shows – one celebrating photography on the subcontinent, the other its many innovations in science and technology.
Illuminating India: Photography 1857-2017, is the first exhibition to document the history of photography in India, and includes both archive and contemporary work. It includes images by India’s first known photographer Ahmad Ali Khan, pioneering art photographer Marahaja Ram Singh II, the country’s first female photojournalist, Homai Vyarawalla; and award-winning contemporary photographers such Magnum’s Sohrab Hura. It also includes images of India taken by non-Indians, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Werner Bischof, Margaret Bourke White, Lucien Hervé, Mitch Epstein, Vasantha Yogananthan, and Olivia Arthur.
Many of the works on display are on show for the first time in the UK, with works sourced from several international collections. Pivoting around key dates in India’s recent history – the Indian Rebellion against the British East India Company in 1857 and the independence of 1947 – the exhibition hopes to highlight photography’s importance in documenting the subcontinent’s ever-changing culture, landscape, architecture, and people.
The second exhibition, Illuminating India: 5000 Years of Science and Innovation highlights scientists, technologists and thinkers from throughout Indian history. Works on display range from the earliest standardised weights, dating back to the Indus Valley Civilisation of 3000–2500 BCE, to artefacts from India’s flourishing space programme.
Printmaker, sculptor, photographer and filmmaker Chila Kumari Burman has also been commissioned to make a series of artworks in response to the theme of Illuminating India, and throughout the season The Science Museum will also host a series of film screenings, workshops, panel discussions and live performances on India.
“India’s history and culture are built on a rich tradition of scientific thought and innovation,” said Ian Blatchford, director of the Science Museum Group. “The stories we will be showcasing through this vibrant season not only shaped India but had global significance.”
Illuminating India: Photography 1857-2017 is on show at the Science Museum until 31 march 2018. Entry is free. www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/see-and-do/illuminating-india-photography-1857-2017