India, 1969-1971, 1979-1980

Scope and content:

The largest single body of photographs in the collection (429 prints) derives from several trips that Gedney took to India: the first, in 1969, sponsored by a Fulbright Fellowship, which took him to old Delhi and Benares (Banaras or Varanasi), then another in 1979, when he returned to visit Calcutta (Kolkata) for about four months. From these transformative experiences came the thousands of images preserved on contact sheets, then the hundreds of exhibit-quality prints in this series.

Additional test prints can be found in the Film and Development Tests series.

The photographic body of work is accompanied by many loose papers and notebooks, in which Gedney recorded his reflections on Indian daily life and culture, details of scenes and conversations, quotes on Indian culture, lists of readings, and telephone numbers and addresses of contacts. These manuscripts are all found in the Writings and Notebooks series.

Records associated with these trips are also found in the Grants and Work Files and in the Correspondence. An article written by Gedney on the work of Indian photographer and friend Raghubir Singh is found in the Print Materials Series.

The India photographs portray a rich variety of scenes: street life, including passersby, merchants, shops, and markets, sleeping people, and domestic animals; processions, Ganges river rituals, and religious and cultural celebrations such as Holi; Yantra and Shiva pujas, or temples; elaborate weddings; actors, athletes, acrobats, and other entertainers; ritual wrestlers; religious yogis with their followers; and artists and artisans, such as painters, weavers, sculptors, and photographers, working at their crafts. Interior scenes are fewer by comparison but include palace rooms and courtyards, offices, and museums, and more rarely, people's homes. While in Benares Gedney also traveled to a small country village, presumably near the city, and took many photographs in that setting. One series of images from Calcutta was taken during monsoon season, and vividly conveys street life accompanied by constant rains. There are also many night scenes, primarily of festivals, and people and animals sleeping on the streets and near the river.

Greatly interested in Indian popular and folkloric art, Gedney photographed Benares' ubiquitous and unique wall paintings, also known as "bhitti chitrakala," as well as political graffiti, advertisements, and other forms of visual culture. He appears to have used images from the wall paintings frequently in his teaching, and produced large sets of color slides of them to show in classes; these are found in the Slides Series.

Prints in this series are arranged in rough chronological order.


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Collection restrictions:

Portions of the collection are closed pending digitization.

Negatives and original audiovisual media are closed to use. Viewing and listening copies are available upon advance request.

Please contact the Rubenstein Library before coming to use this collection.

Use & permissions:

The copyright interests for Gedney images in this collection are held by Duke University. However, some commercial work, audio recordings, and materials by other creators, may carry other copyright considerations. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, or contact the Rubenstein Library.

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