A picture is worth a thousand words, something that the well-known writer, art curator and documentarian Ina Puri believes in. On May 11 at India International Centre's ongoing exhibition '23 Grams of Salt', she got a chance to revisit the works of photographer and speaker Anuj Ambalal as well as understand his vision behind his passionate project.
The exhibition of photographs not only explores the hostoric Salt March but also evokes memories of places where Gandhi and his supporters had spent their time during the March.
In an exclusive conversation with 'Millennium Post', Ina Puri shared her thoughts about the exhibition and talked about her understanding of the deep connection between the artists and their works.
About the photographs on view, the curator said, "I had seen these photographs eight months ago and I was fortunate that I got a copy of Anuj Ambalal's book '23 Grams of Salt: Retracing Gandhi's March to Dandi' so I could read it and revisit the exhibition when it happened a few months ago in Delhi's Camera Museum. Now IIC has it beautifully spread out, so one can have a look at it in a way that's more focused. I loved the idea of having letters on the walls so that one can connect the images with the texts."
"I think the subject is extraordinary as one has to be really brave to tackle a subject like this. It's not glamourous and not easy on the eyes, but draws people in as it's very intriguing and leaves a lot of questions to ponder over.
Take for instance the picture of cloth with a razor. It's not visually attractive as the background is a caked cow dung wall. But a razor that was used to shave Gandhi and the barber, who was there with the photographer narrates a whole story. The picture captures a special moment. It's also something that one thinks of as an important evidence of Gandhiji's life, who met and trusted the ordinary people. So yes, this exhibition is truly interesting in the way it projects Gandhiji's life during the March," she added.
Ina went on to call Anuj's work 'quite brave', "as none of the primary actors of that time is present today, but those people have come alive through these pictures."
Speaking about how she perceives the connection between the artists and their creations, she revealed, "Every artist has a different connection with his work. In the case of this exhibition, Anuj has been documenting something without knowing which way it's going to lead him as there is no actual Gandhiji present. But every step of the trail he follows, leads to Gandhiji and that's quite extraordinary."
"Before this exhibition, I did an exhibition of M.F. Hussain in Kolkata, which was about his cut-outs. It was a totally different body of work. So as an art curator, my joy in working with an artist is the one that can represent the artist's focus on a series or a body of work. I don't look at an artist and say, 'I would like you to do this for me'. I simply go with the flow. I look at art created as an ongoing process, of which I'm a part," said Ina Puri as she concluded the conversation.