Institutions is a photographic series by the France-based British photographer, Christopher Taylor, that explores the interior spaces of Imperial buildings in Bombay (Mumbai) and Calcutta (Kolkata). These elegiac black and white photographs investigate the ambiguous meanings and impact of colonialism on contemporary India.
A trained zoologist and self-taught photographer, Christopher Taylor has travelled extensively in India. From his very first visit in the 1980s, he was struck by its architecture, and particularly fascinated by the manner in which the two cities featured in this series, once proud centres of the British Raj, serve as windows into history. Rather than functioning as documents of historical truth though, Taylor's photographs operate as displays of an imagined past. Capturing the stasis of places ravished by the years, they expose the transformed faces of what are the last redoubts of Colonial rule; accentuating the traces of glamour lingering in these structures, they traverse time effortlessly - underlining in a frozen moment, narratives of the missing and lost that, nevertheless, resist being entirely dismissed and forgotten.
Painstakingly framed, Taylor's photographs use light and shadow to shape and guide the viewer's eye, reinforcing the lines of architectural space by the deliberate use of the frontal angle and a medium format camera. Devoid of people and colour, the focus in these photographs is on edifices and objects that, captured in a moment of utter stillness, produce an experience of both familiarity and unfamiliarity - providing the spectator with an opportunity to re-examine things from a new perspective.
About Christopher Taylor - Institutions (Small Format)
Viewings: 20 Dec 14 - 05 Jan 15
Closed on 25 Dec and 01 Jan
Mon - Sat: 11:00 am - 7:00 pm
Industry Manor, 3rd Floor
Appasaheb Marathe Marg
Prabhadevi, Mumbai - 400 025
Tasveer is delighted to announce the opening of Institutions by Christopher Taylor at Saffronart, Mumbai.
The photographs in this exhibition explore the interiors of Imperial buildings in Mumbai and Kolkata. Taylor’s eloquent depictions of some of the quintessential emblems of British rule attempt to unravel the legacy of colonialism, considering its ambiguities and its impact on contemporary Indian society.
Christopher Taylor’s photographs were described by the noted author and publisher Naveen Kishore as “haunted by the ‘then’ of a previous long-passed moment.” His images explore notions of memory both real and conceived, considering the idea that the past can be revealed, understood and revisited through enduring symbols and emblems within the landscape. A zoologist by training, and a self taught photographer, Taylor’s interest in photography began in his teens when he worked as a beach photographer in the UK. His extensive travel through Asia, (particularly India and China), has inspired his various photographic projects, exhibitions and books. Most recently, he collaborated with Soumitra Das of The Telegraph, for ‘White & Black, A Journey to the Centre of Imperial Calcutta’.
From his first visits to India in the 1980s, Taylor was struck by the country’s architecture, particularly fascinated by the once colonial capital of Calcutta, and the industrial centre Bombay, which for him were windows into history, built on a heritage inherited from pre-Independence with buildings conceived by European architects. Intrigued by the palpable residue of colonialism, that appeared not just in architecture, but also in organisational structures daily life, Taylor began his visual anecdotes of India’s tumultuous history, focusing on the interiors of buildings with which he had a personal resonance.
Rather than a documentation of a true past or history, Taylor’s photographs propose an intuitive connection with his subject, triggering a fictitious memory of an imagined past, inspired and informed by the artist’s own fascination with history and literature, as well as the viewer’s residual memories. His approach to image-making avoids colour, with a focus on specific elements, characteristics and outwardly mundane details of the environment, all of which have a significance, but aren't necessarily or immediately descriptive. Taylor’s photographs expose the transformed faces of what are the last redoubts of Colonial rule, where age and dramatic historical changes have mellowed their initial glamour and hauteur to a quiet dignity, which resists being disregarded or forgotten.