July 20, 2010
Every photographer in India should embrace the idea that there is now a new gallery in Mumbai that devotes itself to photography, toppling the musty, mofussil and retrograde reputation that the Piramal Gallery might have held for many years.
Matthieu Foss for a few years now has been showcasing indian photography and like a hermit crab has been renting and time sharing space whenever, and wherever it became available.
His swank new, if shiny gallery breathes a sigh of relief in Ballard Estate extending the perimeter of south mumbai galleries in an ever widening orbit.
The gallery opened with photographs (Jan14th-13th Feb) by Montreal-born Marcus Leatherdale, who lives in India and in one politically insensitive, attitudinal swoop joined the ranks of magazines like Vogue who launched their Indian edition with Patrick Demarchielier showing the natives how its done. Bravo. Had the photographs of the tribal natives playing their ethnographic sometimes fetishised roles been outstanding the urban natives might have had to hold their heads in neo-colonial shame. Eventually there is good or bad photography, devoid of gender, caste, creed, nationality or economic station.
But let the natives not get ahead of themselves, what they could not do in post independent India, Foss has done with a quiet je ne sais quois.
The second show, Where the City Rests by Shahid Datawala (16Feb-13th Mar) had framed cabinets on the floor looking at spaces used for resting. At the opening that translated into where the cities hip rest their cocktail glasses, ironically twisting the idea of Dystopia.
The gallery itself is on Goa street, the narcissistic self portraits and attempted erotica in the current show called Unseen, Unheard, Unexplained by Pat (16th Mar-10Apr) who spends a lot of his time in the place the street is named after might have been better off borrowing from its title. But the upside and there is one, is that Foss is open enough to the idea that you can be anyone without pedigree and an influential art parent to have access to the space should he think you worthy. And that is something most natives need to learn quickly.