2024 | Lecture by Jury Chair | Umrao Singh Sher-Gil Grant for Photography

Umrao Singh Sher-Gil Grant for Photography 2023

Lecture by Jury Chair

‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Photography’ | Lecture by David Campany

Lecture by Jury chair, David Campany
‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Photography’

The lecture was chaired by Madhuban Mitra


Monday, 12 February 2024, 5.30 pm
Seminar Rooms I, II, III (first floor)
Kamaladevi Complex, India International Centre
40 Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi 110 003


About the lecture:

For all the advances in the critical thinking about photography in the last half century or so, we still have a diminished vocabulary that makes it difficult to talk with any nuance about even the most commonplace aspects of making and looking at images. In this illustrated lecture, David Campany reflects on several years of writing, teaching and curating photography. He considers a number of moments in which the gap between the medium and the language for discussing it has seemed impossibly wide. In particular, the lecture looks at why and how the distinction between ‘documentary’ and ‘staged’ photography can feel helpful at one moment and unhelpful at another. Tracing the origins of the tension between these two terms, the lecture seeks to open up new spaces for thought about the images we think we know and the ones we might want, or need, to make.

David Campany (Jury Chair) is a curator, writer and educator. He is the author of several books including On Photographs 2020, Indeterminacy: thoughts on time, the image and race(ism) co-written with Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa 2022, A Handful of Dust 2015, Walker Evans: the magazine work 2014, Photography and Cinema 2008, and Art and Photography 2003. His recent exhibitions include Immersion: Gregory Halpern, Vasantha Yogananthan, Raymond Meeks ICP New York 2023, William Klein: Yes. Photographs, Paintings, Films 1948-2013 ICP New York 2022, and the six-museum Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie, Germany 2020. He teaches at the University of Westminster, London, and is Curator at Large, International Center of Photography, New York.



Madhuban Mitra works primarily with photography, film and video as part of an artist duo with Manas Bhattacharya. She studied English Literature and holds a Ph.D in Cultural Studies. Some of the duo’s recent solo and group exhibitions include Until the End of the World (2023) and Last Evenings on Earth (2019) at Photoink, New Delhi; A Visual Alphabet of Industry, Work and Technology, Fondazione MAST, Bologna (2022); Postdate: Photography and Inherited History in India, San Jose Museum of Art, California and Ulrich Museum of Art, Kansas, USA; and The Great Machine II in Museo Trepat, Tarrega, Spain, where they received the EMBARRAT award. Other awards include Fondazione MAST Photography Grant, Skoda Breakthrough Artist Award and a research residency from Pro Helvetia. Their work is part of the collections of the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), Fondazione MAST, Bologna, and private collections around the world. They also teach courses on moving image and photography as visiting faculty in the Master’s Programme at the National Institute of Design (NID), Gandhinagar.