STARS Exhibition in Paris July 2018 EXTENSION !

We are delighted to announce that the exhibition is extended until the 31st of August 2018!

The exhibition is open from Monday to Friday 8am-7pm.

The exhibition

“Portrait Dravida: A Century of Studio Photography”

organized for the 25th ECSAS Conference (European Association for South Asian Studies) will be held from 5 to 30 July 2018 at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, at 54 boulevard Raspail 75006 Paris.

The entrance is free.

“Portrait Dravida” shows for the first time in France the photographic production of popular photo studios in South India.

In this region of the world for over a century, the photo studio remained the only means of access to photography for the vast majority of the Indian population of all castes and origins. One would come alone, as a couple, as a family and, a little later, as a group of friends to get a portrait taken. If it was “too late”, the photographer would be called to the home to immortalize a recently deceased member of the family. The photo studio was the temple of portraiture where imagined ideals and rough social realities coexisted on the negatives. The challenge of the S.T.A.R.S. project is to consider, for the first time, these photographic portraits of commercial photo studios as object of study and object of art.

The exhibition was realized thanks to the support of ECSAS, the CEIAS (Center of Study of India and South Asia, CNRS-EHESS) and the EHESS.



Zoe Headley, CEIAS-CNRS



Kasha E. Vande, ARCH M, Trustee, PondyART Foundation


BBC – Photographs that show a bygone India

BBC report by By Pramila Krishnan

Women in 19th Century Tamil Nadu

There was a time an event would not begin without a photographer. “I remember the days when event organisers would even delay a show if the photographer was running late,” says Balachandra Raju, a 78-year-old third-generation photographer of Sathyam studio, a still surviving photo studio in India’s southern city of Chennai (formerly Madras).

“Now, all you need is a phone that fits in the palm of your hand to take a photo.”

Photo studios are on the verge of extinction in the digital era. But as they struggle to keep theirs shutters open, one research project is looking at ways to preserve their legacy by digitising archival images.

Continue reading here in English.

Read it here in Tamil !


Chantier Ecole de conservation restauration Juin 2018

Objectifs pédagogiques

Le département des restaurateurs de l’Institut national du patrimoine forme les futurs restaurateurs du patrimoine, habilités à travailler sur les collections « musées de France » dans sept spécialités : peinture, arts textiles, photographie, sculpture, arts graphiques et livres, mobilier, arts du feu (céramique, verre, émail et métal). Dans le cadre de la formation, les étudiants réalisent des opérations de conservation-restauration in situ , dans des institutions partenaires sur des durées de 1 à 2 semaines, encadrés par un restaurateur diplômé d’état entre le début du mois de juin et la mi-juillet en France, dans les territoires ultra-marin ou à l’étranger. Continue reading “Chantier Ecole de conservation restauration Juin 2018”

Representing Self and Family: Preserving Tamil Studio Portraiture

1. Nalla Pillai studio_Kumbakonam (2)“Photography arrived in India in the 1840s with the first photographic society in South India being created in Madras in 1856. During the early decades of Indian photography, it was accessible almost exclusively to the colonial administration and Indian elite. However by the 1880s, commercial photography studios had found their way into the bazaars of the Presidency’s and family portraits started to appear inside Tamil households. Previously no local forms of popular portraiture existed aside from representations of the divinities.” READ MORE

New funding for digitization from the British Library !

We are pleased to announced that the British Library has granted us funding for a major project (EAP 946) in the frame of its Endangered Archive Program.

The project “Representing Self and Family. Preserving Early Tamil Studio Photography” will get a two year funding in order to document and preserve Tamil studio photography, and therefore family portraiture, since its appearance in the mid-late 19th century up until the introduction of mechanised developing and printing, which radically transformed the practices and productions of studio photography.

The BL  funded an earlier pilot project (EAP 737).

The results have been published online