Vivan Sundaram

Re-take of Amrita, 2001
Digital photomontages, variable dimensions

The circumstances of Vivan Sundaram‘s birth are fundamental to understanding Re-take of Amrita, the digitally manipulated photographs presented here. Born in Shimla in 1943, Sundaram is the son, nephew, grandson of the individuals in the work. The original photographs of the gifted painter Amrita Sher-Gil (1913-1941) were taken by her father, Sundaram’s grandfather, Umrao Singh Sher-Gil (1870-1954). Other images are of Amrita’s sister, Indira, Sundaram’s mother; and of Marie Antoinette, Umrao’s Hungarian wife, the artist’s grandfather. In Sundaram’s computer-assisted interventions, these vivid personalities are transported backwards and forwards in time (as though death were permeable), to places assembled from several places. Sundaram is the artist whose manipulations are a kind of dreaming, and the curator who stages the context of interpretation. He is the archivist who assembles and organizes the past; the photographer who understands that the medium is a kind of writing; the author of fictions who arrives at truth via contrivance; the director re-staging scenes; and the archeologist who breathes meaning into relics. Marian Pastor Roces

Text Credit: “Science Fictions” from exhibition catalogue in the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore, 2003
Special Thanks to Photoink Gallery, New Delhi