Exhibition: Images of India

India: A Celebration of Independence, 1947-1997 Royal Festival Hall, London

Open your eyes to the often violent reality of British domination of India, and the indulgent Merchant-Ivoryish image is lost and focus shifts from the fate of the Bengal tiger. Look instead upon these photographs and glimpse modern India's evolving culture and society.

On 15 August 1947, in a speech that resonates with desire for an Indian future rather than the British past, Jawaharlal Nehru said: "We are a free and sovereign people today and we have rid ourselves of the burden of the past. We look at the world with clear and friendly eyes and at the future with faith and confidence".

The exhibition presents over 250 images of the country by 21 Indian and non-Indian photographers. The diversity of Indian culture is explored and brought to light by renowned and emerging photographers like Mitch Epstein, a cinematographer for several award-winning films, among them Salaam Bombay! and Mississippi Masala. Kanu Gandhi, a cousin and disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, reveals a vast number of unseen photographs of Gandhi (who generally didn't pose and only if it was self-financed and without a flash) and Sunil Janah - a political activist and journalist at the centre of India's political and cultural activity - takes a visual journey through some of the most significant events in the country during its transition from British rule to an independent nation.

"While we cannot expect to evoke India in more than a sequence of such moments, captured by the camera over the past five decades, it is our hope that we convey something of the quality that unites India's people - no matter how profound their differences," says Curator, Michael Hoffman.

Royal Festival Hall, London SE1. Admission free. Enquiries: 0171-960 4242. To 18 January.

Jennifer Rodger

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