Amrita, family in a house of dreams

By Soumitra Das | The Telegraph

There comes a moment in the life of every human being when the forward march of time seems to come to a stop. The present collapses into the past like a concertina and the moment seems to exist outside time.

That is the feeling one has, moving from one digital photomontage to the other, as one watches the video installation at Vivan Sundaram’s exhibition entitled Re-take of ‘Amrita’ 2001-2002, now on at the Seagull Arts and Media Resource Centre.

Over the past 35 years Sundaram has been in charge of the Sher-Gil archive, comprising photo albums of the distaff side of his family with some remarkable black-and-white photographs taken mainly by his maternal grandfather Umrao Singh Sher-Gil (1870-1954). Obsessed with the camera, Umrao Singh had taken many intimate photographs of his Hungarian wife Marie Antoinette (1881-1948), daughters Amrita (1913-1941) and Indira (1914-1975), who is Sundaram’s mother, and of himself, fully clothed and in loin cloth. Amrita, temperamental, voluptuous and also a voluptuary, had inherited this narcissistic streak.


13 March 2003