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Living Portraiture

This interactive, multimedia, project dealing with portraiture is centred on the belief that visual literacy and the impact of visual forms of thinking and working now play a significant role in society. The project aims to introduce audiences to a range of historical and contemporary ideas that inform the theories and practice of portraiture using identifiable images from Delhi.  This will enable viewers across varied age groups and social strata to look at portraiture within a conceptual framework and also to evaluate the role of the visual arts and other forms of visual production as a whole in contemporary society and culture.  This will include using the prism of portraiture to view issues such as environmental pollution, nostalgia, Delhi’s street children and much else.  

All the artists in this project balance historical and theoretical debates in portraiture with a rigorous interrogation of their practices across a range of topics, including: activism and popular politics; contemporary visual arts, capitalism and culture; globalization and new media technologies; institutions and their archives; and the material culture of the city. We aim to draw upon the cultural institutions and intellectual resources of Delhi to make the project even more meaningful.

Why portraiture?  Faces have the ability – unlike anything else – to evoke and create complex links between organic and technical forms of memory; memory and identity; and information-gathering, retrieval, and analysis.  Through portraiture the project will also consider the politics of representation, the reproduction of images, audience reception, the male and female gaze, and the discourse of the ‘other’.  It is hoped that this will lead to a border discussion on how varied perspectives are used to explore vision as a social and cultural process, investigating the ways in which the meanings of the ‘seen’ are explored, constructed and contested in construction, display and discourse.

The project will also look to bring new media art to audiences who may not necessarily be exposed to it.  We will look at how technology is shaping new possibilities for the arts and for culture.  In particular, we would like to address how new creative concerns and forms have emerged, how the old spaces of culture are being challenged and new spaces are arising, and how technology offers new ways of working with communities, audiences and participants. We will explore the critical discourse that has developed around technology and culture, and consider the changing role of technology within cultural institutions and the different forms of outputs that cultural institutions work with. 

Ultimately, this project is about using portraiture to bring Delhi’s incredible nuanced, subtle and layered history to life.  The aim is to make citizens aware of their past, present and future and to show how portraiture is one of the ideal means of representing this historical and cultural palimpsest.  This is about a different representation of the city, one which attempts to discover the multiplicity of the super-urban experience and the relationship between people, space, time and place.

By The Portret Project

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