Opening of BANJARA - Monte Clark Gallery

by - Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Meet the Banjara through image and stitch.

Thursday September 22, 6-9pm
Free Admission
Exhibition runs until October 1, 2016

#105 - 525 Great Northern Way, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

BANJARA is an exhibition of photography and textiles focusing on the semi-nomadic
Banjara tribe of India. Distant relations of the European Roma, the Banjara are a formidable
cultural presence beset by the forces of modernity.

For the Banjara, embroidery as cultural expression is worked within a set of oppositions:
the communal and the individual, the historic and the contemporary, the traditional and
the modern. Materials, motifs, colours, and execution are combined to create utilitarian
artifacts that have both talismanic and auspicious powers; works are made to act as
highly visible displays of wealth and artistic skill.

Tim McLaughlin’s photographs invoke the tensions of visual ethnography — the spectacle
of the other and the necessity of understanding the play of difference in the construction
of identity. Stylistically indebted to the early work of Irving Penn, the portraits
are often made on-site with a portable studio. The resulting decontextualization isolates
the subject and removes the touchstone of reference.

The Banjara, as an ethnic group, were the site of conflict between colonial and tribal
powers during the reign of the British Raj in India. Medieval merchants operating on a
grand scale, the Banjara controlled most inland transport routes through the deployment
of pack trains of up to one-hundred thousand laden oxen. Construction of railways and
paved roads ended Banjara autonomy and the group were criminalized by the British
in 1871. The Indian subcontinent, however, is far from homogenous and many Banjara
continue to live untouched by modern influences.

BANJARA is also the occasion for the North American release of the hardcover book
Textiles of the Banjara: Cloth and Culture of a Wandering Tribe by Charllotte Kwon and
Tim McLaughlin, Thames and Hudson, 2016.

CHARLLOTTE KWON is the owner of Maiwa Handprints and the director of the Maiwa
Foundation. She is a documentary filmmaker and author and is internationally recognized
as a specialist in natural dye use.

TIM MCLAUGHLIN is a photographer and author who has published works in the United
States, Canada, and Great Britain. His previous book, Portraits: Found and Taken
received a silver award in the 2014 Paris Photo Prize. His works have been reviewed in
the New York Times, the L.A. Times, and The Globe and Mail. His work has shown at Le
Mois de la Photo and he features in the Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada. For over
fourteen years he has collaborated with Charllotte on numerous Maiwa projects.

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