Session One:
Title: Contemporary Photographic Practices in South Asia
Date & Time: February 6, 2015 | 12 – 2 pm
Location: Whitney Humanities Center, Room 108
Session Leader: Laura Wexler
Panelists: Deepali Dewan (Royal Ontario Museum), Sandra Matthews (Hampshire College), Esa Epstein (sepiaEye, NYC) and Sunil Gupta

Deepali Dewan is a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, and teaches in the Department of Art at the University of Toronto where she is affiliated with the Centre for South Asian Studies Her research interests encompass nineteenth and twentieth-century visual culture of South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora. Her current research focuses on the history of photography in India with a view toward understanding how photography has shaped contemporary ways of viewing and being in the world. Dr. Dewan’s research has been presented as publications and exhibitions. She is the author of Raja Deen Dayal: Artist-Photographer in 19th-Century India (2013, co-authored with Deborah Hutton),Embellished Reality: Indian Painted Photographs (2012), and the editor of Bollywood Cinema Showcards: Indian Film Art from the 1950s to the 1980s (2011). All three were accompanied by exhibitions. In addition, her essays have been published in edited volumes and journals, including Photography and the Delhi Coronation Durbars, 1877-1911(Julie Codell, editor, 2012), Voices of Change: 20 Indian Artists(Gayatri Sinha, editor, 2010), Confronting the Body: The Experience of Physicality in Modern South Asia (James Mills and Satadru Sen, editors, 2004), Imperial Co-Histories: National Identities and the British and Colonial Press (Julie Codell, editor, 2003), Photography and CultureTrans Asia Photograph Review, and Visual Resources.

Sandra Matthews, associate professor of film and photography, is a graduate of Harvard University (B.A.) and the State University of New York at Buffalo (M.F.A.). Her photographic work is represented in collections including the Smith College Art Museum; the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; the Block Museum of Art, Chicago; the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Women In Photography International Archive at Yale University. Matthews is co-author, with Laura Wexler, of Pregnant Pictures (Routledge, 2000), a cultural history of photographs of pregnant women in the U.S. In 2010 she founded, and currently edits, the Trans-Asia Photography Review (, an online scholarly journal published by Hampshire College and devoted to the discussion of historical and contemporary photography from East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Esa Epstein is owner and curator of sepiaEYE Gallery in New York, which is dedicated to showing a spectrum of modern and contemporary photography and video work from Asia. During her tenure as the Executive Director and Curator of SEPIAInternational and The Alkazi Collection (1995-2009), Esa Epstein published eight titles on modern and contemporary photography including: Atul Bhalla: Yamuna Walk (sepiaEYE & UW Press, 2011), Jungjin Lee: Wind, essays by Eugenia Parry and Vicki Goldberg (Aperture/SEPIA, 2009); Ketaki Sheth: Bombay Mix, preface by Suketu Mehta (Dewi Lewis/SEPIA, 2007); and Vivan Sundaram: Re-take of Amrita, essays by Vivan Sundaram and Wu Hung (SEPIA, 2006). In her former position, Esa Epstein has helped build an impressive collection of Indian photography and, along the way, has offered her expertise to both private and public collections. Esa Epstein continues to offer institutional planning and arts management through sepiaEYE.

Sunil Gupta is an artist, writer, activist, and curator. He was born in New Delhi in 1953, where he lived until his family moved to Montreal in the late 1960s. His education brought him to New York, where he studied art, and then London, where he received his MA, and where he still resides. He has, however, remained a Canadian citizen, particularly in his desire to explore the many facets that comprise his identity. Since the early 1980s, Gupta has continued to delve into projects that are self-referential by nature, but universal in their outcome. Beyond his diverse cultural influences, his work has dealt with a number of issues surrounding homosexuality, particularly the personal and social implications in both Eastern and Western societies. When he was diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1995, he chose not to allow his medical condition to become the single governing factor in his work, however it has gradually became an important informant. In Homelands, Gupta’s large-scale colour diptychs explore the connections between the diverse landscapes that he has an affinity with: Northern India, Eastern Canada, North Eastern USA, and England. He confronts these landscapes both as an artist who is HIV-positive, and as a man whose life in the west differs greatly from that which he would have lived had he never left India. Gupta’s work has been seen in over 90 international solo and group exhibitions. His curatorial efforts are paramount in the monumental exhibition, “Where Three Dreams Cross: 150 Years of Photography from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh” at Whitechapel Gallery, London and Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland. Gupta’s published work includes two monographs: Pictures From Here (2003) and Wish You Were Here: Memories of a Gay Life (2008).