Indo-Italian romance in photographs on show
Sixty rare photographs by famous Italian modernist photographer-turned Communist revolutionary Tina Modotti will be exhibited for the first time in the capital in an exhibition, "Fire Does Not Die, Tina Modotti and Pandurang Khankhoje, Art and Revolution", at the Instituto Italiano di Cultura Oct 15-Nov 15.
The photographs, shot by Modotti in Mexico in the 1920s, narrate the story of the photographer's association with revolutionary freedom fighter Khankhoje, the founder of the Ghadar Party.
The frames, which were preserved in Khankhoje's family archives for many years unknown to art lovers and connoisseurs, stumbled out after the embassies of Mexico and Italy in India and the Italian Culture Cultural Institute joined hands with Savitri Sawhney, Maya Khankhoje and the National Photographic Library of the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History to bring them out, the Istituto Italiano di Cultura said.
The exhibition has been curated by ace photographer Raghu Rai.
Tina Modotti (1896-1942) was one of the strongest personalities of early modern photography. She was a model for painters and photographers and a silent film actress in Hollywood.
In 1930, finding art time-consuming, she discontinued her photography and devoted her life to the Communist movement in different countries. She took part in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) as a field nurse.
Khankhoje (1884 - 1967) played a decisive role in the creation and direction of the Indian Independence League (1908), the Pacific Coast Hindustan Association and the Ghadar Party of armed insurrection, which raised an army of Indian patriots in the US to free India from British rule.
After the dissolution of the Ghadar Party in 1919, Khankhoje devoted the rest of his life to agronomy to eradicate famine among the poor.
Modotti and Khankhoje met in Mexico in 1924, in the years that followed the Mexican Revolution (1910-1917).
Modotti reached Mexico City from Los Angeles in 1923 as a model and student of American photographer Edward Weston, one of the most relevant modernist photographers, with whom she was romantically involved at the time.
At the end of World War I, Khankhoje visited Moscow in 1921 and took refuge in Mexico in 1924, to work as a teacher and researcher in botany and agronomy at the University of Chapingo, the hub of Mexican agrarian reform movement. He participated in the team that discovered the origin of corn as it is known today and founded free schools of Agronomy for revolutionary peasants.
The two shared a life of romance, creative collaborations, revolutionary ideals and a zeal to work for the common good.