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HISTORY IN MAKING

VISUAL ARCHIVES OF KULWANT ROY

Studio Shraza in collaboration with Gallery Princeton is presenting this exhibition ‘History In the Making’ Visual Archives of Kulwant Roy, curated by Mr Aditya Arya.

This is a monumental retrospective exhibition, that showcases an earnest selection of the diverse photographs taken by Mr. Kulwant Roy, one of the first free-lance photo-journalists, who worked through the pre and post-independence era of Modern India, an era that witnessed many nationalist upsurges that shaped the political, constitutional, and economic future of the country.

These photos and thousands of other images remained forgotten in boxes for over twenty-five years after the death of Kulwant Roy, until their inheritor Aditya Arya, the curator of the exhibition and a photographer himself, began cataloguing them. These images reveal a remarkable photographic record of modem Indian history, which have never been published. Aditya Arya, in the process of documenting, preserving, restoring and archiving Kulwant Roy's visual treasures has discovered a rare and valuable visual archive, including many unpublished pictures, of a momentous era in India's history. This exhibition has on display some of the rarest negatives and prints of Mahatma Gandhi, recently discovered and restored. Some of the key black & white photos displayed in the exhibition, from the freedom struggle, reinforce these images as the icons on our mental altars, which we Indians have been trained to feel reverently about our country's founding fathers.

The archive of Kulwant Roy's works has excited historians who believe it may shed new light on key moments in India's independence movement. They are historically important for the freedom struggle because many of these are quite rare photos, including a 1939 picture of Gandhi in a heated argument with Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the head of India's Muslim League who went on to found Pakistan. The two men were seldom photographed together and their disagreements primarily took place out of the public eye. Roy shot many of Gandhi's travels as well as the 1946 British Cabinet Mission which finalized plans for Indian Independence. And he was there when Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last British viceroy, handed power to Nehru, India's first prime minister. He has covered Jackie Kennedy's visit in 1962 to India and India's war with Pakistan in 1965. Roy was a major chronicler of the Independence movement. His images also include a rare sight of the signing of the Indian Constitution by the founding fathers. The exhibition has on display these rare images

KULWANT ROY

Kulwant Roy (1914-1984), during his illustrious career as one of the most outstanding Indian photojournalist, tirelessly documented some of the rarest moments in the socio political history of India. The Visual Archives of Kulwant Roy exhibition brings back to life the priceless moments of India's history that have been captured by the lens of Kulwant Roy's black and white rolls. His visual archives include some of rare photographs from the political meetings, iconic portraits and glimpses in the lives of freedom fighters and leaders of India, which are of historic significance. Besides this, his works contain images of daily life and the effects of nation building from the time of independence.

Born in Baglikalan in Ludhiana, Punjab, Roy's career started in the twenties. His earliest work of extreme importance was documenting the meeting of Mahatma Gandhi and Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan (Frontier Gandhi), in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in 1938. Later, working at the Royal Indian Air Force he tested his skills taking aerial shots from the cockpit. His patriotism got the better of him and he found it difficult to tolerate the discrimination at the hands of his British superiors and was court-martialled. Moving to Delhi around the time of partition, he witnessed and captured many of the events which shaped India's Independence like Simla Cabinet Mission in 1945. Having followed the freedom movement closely his work captures the spirit and energy of it along with the hopes and aspirations of people at the time.

Roy, during his world tour in 1958, carried with him photographs taken from all around India, which were published in newspapers and magazines abroad. Prominent among these were pictures of people on the Amarnath Yatra in the snow-capped mountains of Kashmir. He took pictures of the countries he visited (around forty). In 1963 he mailed all his photographs and negatives to his address in Delhi, but realized that they were lost on his return. Broken in spirit, he kept searching for them in the Dust Bins of Delhi ...Never to find them. Roy died of cancer in the year 1984.

INDIA PHOTO ARCHIVE FOUNDATION

The India Photo Archive Foundation hasbeen established with a view to identify, preserve and document photographic legacies. Towards this end, it aims to restore original photographs and negatives, digitise their contents, preserve, annotate and document them. The Foundation will encourage the use of such archives in educational, institutional and cultural endeavours. It will work to disseminate the works through exhibitions, publishing and the internet. In doing so, the India Photo Archive Foundation hopes to aid the development of a platform for amateur and professional photography over the ages. Encourage a wider discourse on the content, politics and aesthetics of photography. And contribute towards creating a culture of dialogue on diverse narratives of photographic archives that must be treasured as documentary and artistic works, and as markers of the history of photographic technology and processes over time.

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