|Indian cities offer a cornucopia of images: from brilliant billboards along the streets and facades, Bollywood posters in taxis, buses, restaurants and shops, to film, a steadily growing number of magazines, and the new omnipresence of the TV screen. This iconography of everyday Indian life is the subject of the exhibition Indian Popular Culture. The Conquest of the World as Picture at the House of World Cultures. Curator and cultural historian Jyotindra Jain has assembled a unique collection of graphic art exhibits, photographs and paintings, and mixed them with discoveries from bazaars, TV clips and film posters to reveal the full development of Indias popular visual culture in a display ranging from miniature paintings, via colonial art, to the billboard painters of today.
Indias modern popular imagery results from the major cultural and technological shifts during the nineteenth century. Mass production of images, new means of visualising myths and religious legends generated new fields of tension in the sacred, erotic, political and colonial landscapes. The prevailing eclecticism of visuality frequently led to an arbitrariness in piling up images from diverse visual sources, developing an ambivalent language of collage and citation that further facilitated the seizure of new aesthetic and cultural content.
This exhibition presents, as a sensory experience, the creation and constant change, transformation, and the rediscovery of a visual world since the nineteenth century. In addition, it explores and reveals the colonial context and mutual reciprocity in the construction of identities with reference to gender, sexuality, ethnic origin, religion and power.