Exhibition: Lived Stories Everyday Lives – Chandigarh/Daudpur – from July 12/13

Hri Institute for Southasian Research and Exchange and Panjab Digital Library has organized an exhibition Lived Stories from July 12 to 15 in Kala Bhawan, Chandigarh and from July 18 to 20 in Daudpur in district Ludhiana. All of you are requested to visit as per your convenience. Here is the synopsis or introductory text of the exhibition.

Images from Private Collections across Southasia

By Hri Institute for Southasian Research and Exchange

The everyday is the most obvious, the most conspicuous, the most social, and yet in some ways, the most inaccessible part of our daily lives. Our ways of thinking, of looking, of experiencing and understanding the world around us are constantly mediated by a series of forms and functions. These varied forms and functions are manifest in the food we eat, the way we dress, our places of work and recreation, and where and why we travel. Each of these, steeped in our daily lives, contains a multiplicity of stories accumulated through time in a manner that is at once deeply historical and current.

Through a series of pictorial and textual vignettes this exhibition presents an understanding of how the past around us has been lived. The events and the activities that have shaped our collective consciousness—the so-called big moments of history—are understood here in terms that are accessible to the people in a language and framework of their own. This is a tiny attempt to look at how everyday lives have been lived, and how they have been chronicled. It is the “small voices of history” that are sought to be brought to the fore here: people who have elided the ‘great’ narratives of history offered through history books, national dailies and the media. Here, postcards, advertisements, calendars, letters, family albums and studio photographs tell the stories of everyday lives as well as extraordinary events in the lives of ordinary people.

The emphasis is on understanding the multitude – those who inhabit spaces similar to our own, and yet unique in their own way. The range of the stories narrated here is as diverse as they are interlinked and mutually coexistent. We present here a selection of the visualities and the ways of living that have formulated and structured lives in Southasia. From professional photographers who sought to embrace momentous events at the precise moment of their occurrence, to amateur record keepers and individuals who wished to hold on to memories immensely personal and cathartic, the stories told here are often located in milieus that are familiar to us and yet seems to carry a feeling of ‘otherness’. This paradox – of the merging of the known with the strange – is recurrent in all of the exhibits, and a defining characteristic of the everyday. In cutting across the boundaries of region and nation-state, the representations from collections across Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka help us grasp a shared past that is being slowly effaced by time, politics, and by the seemingly inescapable drive towards of modernization. This exhibition thus, is as much about knowing the antecedents of our present as it is about getting familiar with our collective pasts. The images presented here are by no means iconic, nor do they attempt to be representative. Instead, we urge the viewer to approach each exhibit with the comfort of familiarity and the exhilaration of the unknown: the quotidian and the extraordinary nestled together to present vignettes from everyday life in several sites across Southasia.

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