Photo op for posterity

May 03, 2013, 00:59 IST | Dhara Vora

The National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) might be known as one of the best platforms in the city for cultural activities, but it is also home to a vast archive of books, music recordings and photographs, a large section of which is open to public access

The city might have its share of art galleries, but the Piramal Gallery inside the National Centre for the Performing Arts was one of the first spaces in the city to be dedicated to photography.

Bombay Cycle Agency, Secunderabad, February 24, 1904; Gyan Chandra of Raja Deen Dayal & Sons

In focus
Since its formation in 1988, the gallery has had several big names, both Indian and international, exhibit at the Gallery. “Photographer Judith Mara Gutman travelled across India and collected photographs relevant to Indian culture and history (from early 19th and 20th century) and gave it to the Gallery. This is what formed the first photo exhibition at Piramal Gallery,” says Mukesh Parpiani, Head — Piramal Art Gallery and Centre of Photography as an Art Form.

Two Men ca. 1890; albumen;B Framji and Co

Most photographers, who have exhibited at the gallery, donated one of their works to the gallery which led to the formation of a photo archive. Today, it boasts of frames from several big names including Raghubir Singh, Homai Vyarawalla, Jyoti Bhatt and Tarpada Banerjee. “We house at least 500 photographs that are stored in a room with controlled temperature. Even I had exhibited once at Piramal, and I must admit, that my photographs in the archives are in far better condition than those at home,” he reveals.

Mukesh Parpiani at the archives section of Piramal Gallery, NCPA.  Pic/Suresh KK

Space jam
But the biggest problem that Parpiani faces today is compiling these photographs. He says that he doesn’t have a count of these gems, and really needs someone to give their time and make a list of all they have in store. These pictures, however, are not open to public access, except for rare exhibitions and performances at the NCPA.

The good news is, that the NCPA Library, however, is accessible for all at a mere annual membership of R100. With this membership, one can access almost 20,000 books on different subjects such as art, music, film, photography, etc. The library also houses the Stuart-Liff Collection that contains 6,000 books and 11,000 LPs on Western Classical music.

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