When History Chugs in on the Rails of Memory: 160 years of Indian Railways
Locomotives have become museum pieces. Diesel engines are viewed with certain amount of curiosity. None even discerns a compartment from an electrical engine. The evolution of Railways has been curious and it does not seem to stop. JohnyML reviews a show that celebrates the 160 years of Indian Railways by the Ministry of Railways, Government of India at IGNCA, New Delhi.
How do you imagine a train, which was called a locomotive once upon a time and by now with several names including tube and metro? Does it chug into your memory with its hissing sound or does it terrify you with it ferocious thumping of diesel power, or does it run into your impatient waiting with that electrified silence that makes you think about the taste of those invisible wheels? Trains have been running along the length and breadth of this country for the last one hundred and sixty years. On 16th April 1853, when a locomotive chugged its way from Boribunder to Thane in Bombay with four hundred people on board it not only inscribed a new chapter of modernity in the Indian subcontinent’s history but also paved the way for India’s revolution to freedom. Had it not been the Indian Railways, the message of national freedom would not have reached the remote corners of this country. Mahatma Gandhi despised modern developments but he used both railway and telegraph, two modern innovations to the hilt.
Locomotives have become museum pieces. Diesel engines are viewed with certain amount of curiosity. None even discerns a compartment from an electrical engine. The evolution of Railways has been curious and it does not seem to stop. The Ministry of Railways has organized a show in New Delhi’s IGNCA in order to commemorate 160 years of Indian Railways. In a way, this is an album show; the pictures presented in the show are culled from the Railways’ archives. The curatorial team has not tried to create a chronological history of the evolution of Indian Railways, instead through an intelligent selection of visuals it has tried its best to showcase the progress that the Indian Railways has achieved so far. The thematic could be discerned as the following: Evolution of Engines, Progress in proliferating the reach of railways, Different kinds of coaches, Goods Trains, Relationship between people and Railways, Railway station architecture, Famous personalities who have used railways for right and wrong purposes, Making of Bridges, Making of Tunnels and Different kinds of Waiting Rooms. The exhibition is annotated with a presentation of actual paraphernalia of railway office implements.
While a railway museum gives you the hands on experience, this show leaves a lot for imagination. When one sees a pair of elephants pushing an odd goods wagon to its platform and reads the note that elephants were used in some yards for pushing purpose, one could accept the whole scenario with a sympathetic smile. The possibility of constant comparisons in terms of experience, cultural memory and the contemporary reality/experience provided by Indian Railways while looking at these pictures generates not only wonderment but also a sense of humility. Critical contrasts that the viewers produce in the act of viewing tell us how this establishment was much revered once upon a time. Even the third class waiting rooms look so clean and majestic; and one could not help thinking of the sad dilapidated and stinking conditions of the waiting rooms today, in the times of technological revolutions.
The luminaries’ section does impress the viewer as one sees an arrested Bhagat Singh in shackles taking rest in a Railway property with a police constable on guard, as one witnesses Gandhiji greeting people from doors and windows of railway coaches, Rabindranath Tagore majestically and poetically sitting inside a compartment, and three generations of Nehru family descending from a compartment. The making of tunnels and bridges and their documentary and visual evidences presented in the exhibition make an Indian proud. Those who have seen the state of the art machines and drills (at least in pictures) making tunnels under a thriving city to pave lines for metro/tube trains, the pictures of rudimentary machines making tunnels that have become historical ones in the modern history of surface transportation in India will definitely make one salute the planners, engineers and workers of those times. The show could have been one of the crowd pullers but unfortunately, as it happens generally with the Government organized shows, the announcement came much late in the newspapers, to be precise, on the closing day of the exhibition. The result, there have been a lot of visitors on a sultry Sunday noon. If this exhibition travels to other cities, it would be a great visual treat for all via history.
Milap - Embrace of Two Cultures
(A sculpture 'Awakening' by Pankaj Guru)
The artist aim to exhibit their art works as a behavioral overview of mankind, throught heir respective countries, for example, B K Dutta’s sculpture of Dr Rajendra Prasad’s image in 1961 and Tessa Alexander’s unique portrayal of the two islands, Trinidad and tobago and their various aspects through her works.
Alter Bodies and the Sacred Feminine
(A painting by Sajitha Shankar)
A Point & Line to Plane - IX Edition
(A painting by Shiladitya Sarkar on display)
Dreams and Delusions of Supam Adhikary
(A painting by Supam Adhikary)
Aakriti Art gallery, Kolkata presents a solo show of new works by artist Supam Adhikary, titled, ‘ Dreams and Delusions’. The show commences today, 3rd June 2013 and is on view till the 29th ofJune 2013.
Supam is and Indian Society of Oriental Arts graduate, Kolkata. Surrealism dominates his canvases and palette is usually that of a realistic painter. This combination brings in various nuances which could go unnoticed in normal artworks. the magical landscapes in his works are his influences as a student by masters of art.
All of his works in the exhibition focus on human destiny, the lives of human beings and the intricate intermingling of destinies.
His works are primarily rendered in oils on canvas. The show is on view at Aakriti art gallery, from 11 am to 7 pm till the 29th June 2013.