Authors, Aveek Sen
6. The Grid and More

In 1985, the American photographer, William Gedney, copied out a passage in his notebook from the English writer on landscape, Nan Fairbrother: “The shapes we make for ourselves are geometrical, and the background of civilised life is more or less rectangular. Our rooms and houses are arrangements of cubes, our doors and windows, furniture and rugs, books and boxes – all their angles are right angles and all their sides are straight.” more

Published: 07.04.2012
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5. The Tyranny of Context

I have been looking at two things together. First, the excellent Duke University website that collects the photographs, handmade photobooks and notebooks of the photographer, William Gedney (1932-1989), who made a large body of work in India during two extended visits in 1969-71 and 1979-80. Second, the catalogue of the big "India show" last year at the Pompidou Centre, Paris, called Paris-Delhi-Bombay... more

Published: 28.03.2012
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4. Photography and Witnessing

I was looking at a collection of photo-essays on jail experience, militarization and the death penalty called Art as Witness, edited by the “photo-artist”, Parthiv Shah, and a teacher of journalism, Sana Das (Tulika Books: New Delhi, 2010). It had begun as an “ambitious and elusive project” called “Art as Activism“ at Amnesty International, India, involving “artists, writers, advocates, film-makers, activists, journalists, police officers and professionals”. more

Published: 22.03.2012
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3. Books without Words

Thank you, Martin, for this anatomy of photography’s proneness to a certain kind of mindlessness, taken by David towards a vision of what a ‘liberal’ education for a photographer might be in the future. I am also grateful to you, David, for the directness of your question to me: “What is it that photography offers you as a writer?

This question has forced me to focus my thoughts over the last few days, and to do this purely on the basis of what I am carrying inside my head and in my computer, for I have been travelling constantly. Sometimes, it is good to be away from one’s books, and to be forced to rely solely on one’s memory, eyes and ears. more

Published: 14.03.2012
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2. Theory versus Instinct

Thank you Prateek, David, Ray, Martin and Stuart for your varied responses. With each I am tempted to take the blog in a different direction; but that might take promiscuity a little too far!

The question of ‘theory’ comes up, in different ways, in the responses of both David and Stuart, and I found David’s notion of the blurring of lines between theory and literature, especially in the way Phillips reads Freud and Winnicott, particularly alluring and useful. I have always found Barthes’s Lover’s Discourse and Incidents more inspiring than Camera Lucida, for photographers as well as writers on photography – and inspiring in a more oblique, tangential way. (They could be read as Barthes’s great ballads of sexual dependency.)  more

Published: 07.03.2012
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1. Photography - A Promiscuous Life

What we talk about when we talk about photography. This phrase had been going around in my head as I thought about this blog in the last few days. It can’t be an accident that the phrase echoes the title of Raymond Carver’s 1981 short story, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”, about two couples discussing love as they sit around a kitchen-table drinking gin while the afternoon light slants across the room. The phrase seems to imply that photography, like love, is one of those irrepressibly miscellaneous topics of conversation that can’t help opening up, in a rather unruly way, into other topics even as one tries to discipline one’s thoughts into some sort of purity and rigour. more

Published: 29.02.2012
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