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Allegory & Illusion: Mira Nair + Christopher Pinney


Wednesday, November 20, 2013
7:00 PM–8:30 PM

—Jonathan Swift
The director Mira Nair and the anthropologist Christopher Pinney examine photographs from the exhibition Allegory and Illusion: Early Portrait Photography from South Asia. Together they try and piece together what information a photograph is able to tell us and what is being left out of the frame.
Allegory and Illusion presents approximately 120 photographs and a selection of albums, glass plate negatives, cabinet cards, cartes-de-visites, and postcards illustrating the rich tradition of portrait photography in India, Burma, Sri Lanka, and Nepal from the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth century.
A book signing for the exhibition catalog, to which Pinney has contributed, follows the program.
Includes an optional gallery tour at 6:15 p.m.

About the Speakers

Mira Nair’s debut feature Salaam Bombay! was nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It also won the Camera D’Or (for best first feature) and the Prix du Publique (for most popular entry) at the Cannes Film Festival as well as twenty-five other international awards. Mississippi Masala, The Perez Family, Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love, and My Own Country followed. Monsoon Wedding was shot in thirty days in 2000 and went on to win the Golden Lion at the 2001 Venice Film Festival and receive Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for Best Foreign Language Film. Other credits include Hysterical Blindness, which gave HBO its highest original film ratings in three years; a contribution to the group film 11.09.01, Vanity Fair, The Namesake, and most recently The Reluctant Fundamentalist. She has devoted energy to fostering young careers both through the Rolex Mentor program and through an annual filmmaker’s laboratory that is dedicated to the support of visionary screenwriters and directors in East Africa and South Asia.
Christopher Pinney is Professor of Anthropology and Visual Culture at University College London. From 2007–2009 he was Visiting Crowe Professor in the Department of Art History at Northwestern University. His research interests cover the art and visual culture of South Asia, with a particular focus on the history of photography and chromolithography in India. He has also worked on industrial labor and Dalit goddess possession.