The IFP, in collaboration with Pondy ART (, will be presenting a photo exhibition on "Heritage of the Family: Tamil Studio Portraiture (1880 – 1980)" from 25th February to 25th March 2015, on the Goubert Avenue (beach road).
The exhibition will present a series of portraits collected from across Tamil Nadu by Dr. Zoe Headley and a team of French and Indian researchers from the IFP’s Social Science Department. The images are part of an ongoing project tracing the social history of Tamil studio photography and investigating the visual rhetoric of family portraiture in South India.
By the 1880s, commercial photo studios had found their way into the bazaars of the Presidency’s medium size towns. Husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, grandparents and grandchildren could now walk into a studio, take a pose, and look into the camera to be fixed and framed. These family portraits not only present a visual record of a family’s history, often showcasing multiple family generations; they also constitute a wealth of information on costume and Tamil social history.
The IFP team is working to preserve this historical legacy as a digital archive in their library is being constituted for everyone’s benefit. The full archive will be available for public access at the completion of the project.
The IFP has joined forces with Pondy ART to give the public the opportunity to enjoy a sample of the photographs so far collected, observe the styles Tamil Nadu photography studios utilized for the printed images and reinforce the importance of preserving this visual record of local heritage. The exhibition will coincide with the Pondicherry Heritage Festival.