Book Review: ‘Unframed: Discovering Image Practices in South Asia’ by Rahaab Allana

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Book Title: Unframed: Discovering Image Practices in South Asia
Edited By: Rahaab Allana
Publisher: HarperCollins India

Book Review
South Asian photography goes back to the mid-nineteenth century when the British created colonial rule. British colonial officials and merchants brought photography to the subcontinent to record the region’s people, landscapes, and buildings. Photos began as a science and ethnographic study tool, but they soon became a popular medium for portraits and business photos.

In 1840, a British photographer called William Johnson opened the first photography workshop in India in Calcutta. (now Kolkata). Photography gradually became important to South Asia’s cultural and creative landscape.

Unframed: Discovering Image Practices in South Asia by Rahaab Allana Book Cover
Unframed: Discovering Image Practices in South Asia by Rahaab Allana Book Cover

“Unframed: Discovering Image Practices in South Asia” is a collection/reader that examines emerging themes, testimonies, and socio-cultural changes in South Asian visual cultures through essential texts.

The book traces the development of photography in the subcontinent from the eighteenth century to the present, presenting some of the complicated aspects of South Asia-oriented lens-based media. It includes a diverse range of foreign writers, artists, critics, historians, and academics.

Rahaab Allana edited the book, co-published by Harper Collins and the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts. Contributors include foreign writers, artists, critics, historians, and academics. The book examines emerging motifs, testimonies, and socio-cultural changes in crucial works by South Asian photographers who have shaped modern photographic practices.

The book is divided into five sections, each with essays by notable individuals who have added to photography, particularly in South Asia. The book contains beautiful illustrations and photos that will make perusing more enjoyable. Conversations with eminent national and foreign figures from India’s perspective are also intriguing.

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Unframed: Discovering Image Practices in South Asia’s primary goal is to examine emerging motifs, testimonies, and socio-cultural changes through works of art. A wide range of South Asian visual traditions inspires the volume.

The book questions our story viewpoints and conditioned watching habits, which support our stubborn claims to know “who” and “where” we are. It concentrates on poetic and evidentiary frameworks, providing new perspectives on how our analog and digital practices influence our knowledge of ourselves and others.

Mrinalini Venkateswara’s essay in the book looks at the phases of Sawai Ram Singh’s life and depicts him in various ways. This is evident in the first part, which examines historical and current photographic practices.

Overall, “Unframed: Discovering Image Practices in South Asia” examines emerging themes, testimonies, and socio-cultural changes in South Asian visual societies through important texts. It follows the development of photography in India from the eighteenth century to the present. The book questions our story viewpoints and conditioned watching habits, which support our stubborn claims to know “who” and “where” we are.

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Storizen Magazine March 2023 Cover - Anuja Chandramouli
Storizen Magazine March 2023 Cover – Anuja Chandramouli

Read more book reviews in our March 2023 Issue featuring Anuja Chandramouli