This project is based on the painting ‘The Galaxy of Musicians’ by Ravi Varma which is currently housed in the Mysore Palace Museum. In this painting through which the artist choreographs a group of women from different regions of India, the orientalist male gaze is prominent. This painting was originally an imperialist form of group portraiture that excludes the common people. I have attempted to dismantle the aura of the painting and to locate it in the contemporary trans-cultural context by creating a large scale cut out of the painting with which the local community can participate.
Cop Shiva (Shivaraju B.S.), is a documentary photographer. He started his photography career by being a part of an alternative art collective called 1.SHANHTIROAD STUDIO/GALLERY. As a coordinator of this space, he met many local photographers and artists, from India and abroad, which enriched his art practice.
Cop Shiva started to document the complexity of rural and urban India. He focuses on people and portraiture as a genre. He is fascinated with the idea of masquerade and the roles people play in public and private. One of the most acclaimed projects involved documenting the life of a rural school teacher, named Bagadehalli Basavaraj, as a Gandhi impersonator. This project has evolved to include a broader reached, that is to look at Gandhi’s ideals in contemporary India.
Moreover, Cop Shiva’s portfolio includes a series of intimate portraits of urban migrants, people of alternative sexuality, street performers and others living in the hinterland of urban and rural conflict. Shiva continues to capture the diversity of humans who live on the edge and represent the spirit of our times.
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