Subjects & Spaces: Women in Indian Photography


8.25 × 10.75 IN (210 × 270 MM)

The dramatic development and growth of print, photographic and cinematic culture through the late 19th and early 20th centuries radically transformed the representation and circulation of the female image in the public sphere. Presenting a unique selection of images including studio portraits, film stills, post cards, cabinet cards and lobby cards, this publication offers a unique insight into the social and cultural milieu of one of the most renowned periods of Indian history, whilst investigating the function of the photographic medium and its role in the visual representation of women during this time.

Rather than a chronological presentation, the photographs in this publication are divided into five distinct sections, investigating the social and cultural status of women within a variety of spaces in the colonial context. From indoor, domestic spaces that demonstrate realms of household and ideals of demure, chaste womanhood, to performative spaces (such as cinema), where women were represented in enclosures of fantasy and sexuality, to abstract spaces, exploring pictorial self-representation.

Juxtaposing iconic images of cinema legends such as Nargis and Vyjayanthimala, with subjects that remain anonymous and nameless, the photographs in this publication — in conjunction with an accompanying original text by Suryanandini Narain — question the notions and perceptions of Indian feminine identity, examine the modes of cultural perception and investigate how spatial enclosures may alter a viewer’s perception of the subject.