Exhibition "Portrait Dravida. A Century of Studio Photography"

Opening of the exhibition "Portrait Dravida. A Century of Studio Photography" at the 54 boulevard Raspail on July 5th 2018.


The exhibition "Portrait Dravida: A Century of Studio Photography" organized for the 25th ECSAS Conference (European Association for South Asian Studies) will be held from 5 to 30 July 2018 at 54 boulevard Raspail 75006 Paris.


"Portrait Dravida" shows for the first time in France the photographic production of popular photo studios in South India. This exhibition is the result of a collaboration between the S.T.A.R.S. (Studies in Tamil Studio Photography and Society), a collective of researchers and photographers, and the PondyART Foundation, an organization based in Pondicherry (India) whose mission is to make photography accessible to the public and which organizes the internationally recognized festival "PondyPHOTO". It presents the archive created by S.T.A.R.S., a physical and digital archive that traces a century (1880-1980) of practices, codes and photographic know-how of the photographic studios of Tamil Nadu.

In this region of the world for over a century, the photo studio remained the only means of access to photography for the vast majority of the Indian population of all castes and origins. One would come alone, as a couple, as a family and, a little later, as a group of friends to get a portrait taken. If it was “too late”, the photographer would be called to the home to immortalize a recently deceased member of the family. The photo studio was the temple of portraiture where imagined ideals and rough social realities coexisted on the negatives. The challenge of the S.T.A.R.S. project is to consider, for the first time, these photographic portraits of commercial photo studios as object of study and object of art.


The entrance is free.


S.T.A.R.S. is supported by the Endangered Archives Program of the British Library, the French Institute of Pondicherry and the Heritage Sciences Foundation.

The exhibition was realized thanks to the support of ECSAS, the CEIAS (Center of Study of India and South Asia, CNRS-EHESS) and the EHESS.



Zoe Headley, CEIAS-CNRS

Email: zoeheadley@gmail.com


Kasha E. Vande, Arch M, Trustee, PondyART Foundation

Email: kv@pondyart.org


More informations

  • Thursday 5 July 2018 - 18:00 to Thursday 30 August 2018 - 18:00
  • Hall - 54 boulevard Raspail 75006 Paris