PARSIS - an exhibition of photographs by Sooni Taraporevala presents familiar works from her seminal book on Parsis, but mostly comprises of works, yet unseen. Many of these photographs have been viewed across the world, but amazingly this is their first exhibition in her beloved city of inspiration.
Though Taraporevala grew up surrounded by images in a family of avid amateur photographers, she only began photographing in 1977, when as an undergraduate at Harvard University, she borrowed money from her roommate to buy her first camera – a Nikkormat. Her foray into the world of photography was largely self-taught; the photographer she most admired and still does was Henri Cartier Bresson. His love of geometry and the decisive moment found an echo in her black and white work, and she reveals a similar unerring instinct for capturing the usually unseen.
In 1982 she met photographer Raghubir Singh, who saw amongst her eclectic collection of photographs the subject that had been staring her in the face, but that she had failed to see: a photographic study of the community to which she belonged. What had begun as a nostalgic and personal journey then grew into a more objective project that encompassed a world larger than her immediate family. Encouraged by Singh, a maestro of colour photography, she began to shoot in colour.
Whilst her book documented the Parsi community in all its aspects, the exhibition claims no such responsibility; it is a journey through a photographer’s eye, of images that will continually draw you in, revealing a depth that brings something new to the viewer each time.
Sooni Taraporevala, award-winning screenwriter (Salaam Bombay! Mississippi Masala, Such A Long Journey, The Namesake) and filmmaker (Little Zizou) was first a photographer. She is the author of a book of photographs PARSIS A Photographic Journey (2000, 2004). Photographs from PARSIS were included in Tate Modern’s Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis, London 2001, Lille 3000, France 2006, India Moderna at the Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, Spain 2008, Photoquai, Musee de Quai Branly, Paris 2009. She was honoured with a solo show at Harvard University’s Sert Gallery in Cambridge USA, October 2012.