For centuries, photobooks have been used for research, made to stand as evidence of history as they possess a tactile nostalgia of images that were made through time. The art of making photobooks has a language of itself, having its own grammar, constantly enlarging our notions of what is worth looking at and what we have an access to.
A photo book is not just a physical manifestation of a photographer’s thought, but an evidence of his aesthetic. The sequence in which the photographs are to be looked at is proposed by the order of pages, but nothing holds readers to the recommended order or indicates the amount of time to be spent on each photograph. The book has been the most influential way of arranging photographs, thereby guaranteeing them longevity, if not immortality–photographs are fragile objects, easily torn or mislaid. Yet, it is a book that opens a window of thought in our minds, occupies a space by length and breadth in the corners of our homes; carries the weight of past in its loosening spine, yellowing pages, and yet always welcoming a new reader to embrace itself.
Through India in Photobook, we aim to trace the evolution of photobooks in terms of aesthetics and production in the Indian subcontinent by turning the eye inward to educate our audience. With the help of growing collection of photo books made around Indian narratives, we examine, explore, and elicit dialogue on how the nation came to be represented in visual culture today. Here, we do not just look at photobooks as an accessory to history but also an exploration that defies our notions of history; understand photo books as contributions to history and the present. This also allows us to identify gaps in a chronological narration. We proliferate understanding of the gaze and initiate people towards photobooks.
Through this initiative, we aspire to build on our existing collection of photo books by inviting submissions and donations from photographers from all over the world who have produced a body of work in/on India, and make it available to the audience.