Gandhi and the Politics of Visual Representation

Gandhi and the Politics of Visual Representation

Prof. Vinay Lal in conversation with Prof. Prabodh Parikh

Presented by
MS Gore Policy Research Group
School of Media and Cultural StudiesTata Institute of Social Sciences 
Friday, Sept. 4, 2015
6.30 PM to 8.30 PM
Library Conference Hall, Main Campus, TISSThere is but no question that Mohandas Gandhi remains, more than six decades after his assassination, the most iconic figure of modern India.  A distinct and complex iconography began to develop around his figure in his own lifetime.  He was one of the most widely photographed men of his time; an entire industry of nationalist prints extolled his life; and statues of his abound throughout India and, increasingly, the rest of the world.  Gandhi has been a blessing to cartoonists; and nearly every major Indian artist of consequence, from M. F. Husain and Ramkinkar Baij to Ghulam Muhammad Sheikh and Atul Dodiya, over the course of the last half-century has engaged with Gandhi in his or her work.  In this talk, Prof. Vinay Lal, in conversation with Prof. Prabodh Parikh, will examine the life and work of Gandhi in the light of various forms of visual representation and suggest what kind of insights one might be able to derive from a study of these images.  After offering an overview of the visual practices that have informed representations of Gandhi, the talk will move in the second half to a more extended analysis of ‘the sartorial Gandhi’, offers some considerations on the dressed and undressed Gandhi, the idea of nakedness, and so on.  The images, around 100 of which will be shown, are drawn from the Prof Vinay Lal’s unique digital archive of some 10000 images, including 4,000 distinct images –– cartoons, paintings, drawings, sketches, public statuary, film stills, graffiti, nationalist prints, photographs, advertisements, posters, and much else ­­–– drawn from India, Europe, the United States, indeed from nearly all over the world.

About Prof. Vinay Lal

Vinay Lal is Professor of History at UCLA.  His fourteen authored and edited books include the two-volume Oxford Anthology of the Modern Indian City (Oxford, 2013); Deewaar:  The Footpath, the City, and the Angry Young Man(HarperCollins, 2011); Political Hinduism (Oxford, 2009); Of Cricket, Guinness and Gandhi (Penguin, 2005); The History of History (Oxford, 2003); and two books co-edited with Ashis Nandy, India’s leading intellectual. His work has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Finnish, Korean, Hindi, Urdu, Kannada, and Persian.  He also has the distinction of being listed among the “101 Most Dangerous Professors” in America in David Horowitz’s book, The Professors, on account of his critical work on American history and foreign policy.
You can also access his UCLA faculty web page here:
http://www.history.ucla.edu/people/faculty/faculty-1/faculty-1?lid=51About Prof. Prabodh Parikh

Prabodh Parikh is a Gujarati poet, short fiction writer, film curator and visual artist. He recently retired as the Head of the Department of Philosophy at Mithibai College, Mumbai. His book of poems, Kaunsman (Between Parentheses/In Brackets), published in 1993, is a significant collection in Gujarati literature, representing thirty years of work in poetry. It won him several awards, including the Best Poetry Collection of 1993-94 (Gujarat Sahitya Akademi) and the G.F. Saraf Award for Best Gujarati Book in 1992-95. He is also the author of a volume of short fiction and a book of correspondence which comprises a selection of letters he wrote to Gujarati scholar, Harivallabh Bhayani. Another collection of poems entitled Mitro is due for publication by December 2006. Kauns Bahar, a book of essays on philosophy and Gujarati literature, is also due for publication. His poetry and fiction has been translated into Bengali, English, Hindi, Marathi, and Punjabi and published in various literary journals.