Lecture by Dr. Zoe E. Headley (IFP-CEIAS/CNRS) : ""Are Portraits Good to Think? Reflections of Tamil Studio Portraiture"
Following up with the on-going exhibition Heritage of the Family: Tamil Studio Portraiture (1880 – 1980), the purpose of this talk is to explore the various research questions which emerge from a closer examination of tamil studio portraiture. Plagiarising Levi-Strauss's famous formulation, commercially produced family portraits will be explored in terms of various ways in which they "are good to think". This line of enquiry is justified by the fact that the visual rhetoric of South Indian family portraiture as well as the social history of Tamil commercial studio photography has almost completely failed –so far- to attract the attention of academia. Reflecting from both inside and outside the frame, questions regarding the conditions of production of family portraits in the context of later decades of the 19th century, the consequences of the introduction of images in Tamil households as well as their potential engagement with vernacular categories of individuality and personhood, as well as that of interiority and exteriority, will be raised.
Please note that the exhibition "Heritage of the Family: Tamil Studio Portraiture (1880 – 1980)" on the outer wall of IFP (Goubert Avenue, Beach road) is extended until the 12th of April.