An image of the installation of File Room at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Delhi. (Photo taken by me with a 2MG camera).

If you happened to read my previous piece, Same Difference, then it’s important that you read this one. There have been a few developments that are important to put on record.

Firstly, Dayanita Singh emailed me asking that I make a correction, her work, File Room, currently on display at the Kiran Nadar Museum in Delhi, she says, does not feature photographs taken during her visit to the National Instruments Factory in Kolkata. That work, she says, has yet to be edited and even printed.

I reproduce here her comment made on the Skoda Prize Group Page on Facebook:

Dear Madhuban and Manas

Congratulations on the award.

Sorry about the controversy, ofcourse no plagiarism, File room first shown 2011.

For the record- not a single image in File Room is from National instruments factory.

National instruments images not even edited as yet.

Thought this work could make a nice exhibition at Jadavpur univ, with all the dozen film makers who were invited/ commissioned to document the National instruments factory, Raqs media collective included, in whose film I first saw the factory. Lets do it and gift the prints to the university that allowed us all to document this astonishing place.

Photographing the archive is hardly a unique subject, either for you or for me. It is infact as old as photography ( Talbots first images) and a genre in itself.

Enjoy your award .

Best wishes

Dayanita Singh

Secondly, in their defence, Manas Bhattacharya and Madhuban Mitra made another statement on my Facebook Profile page that I’d like to share. Their comment came in response to a comment by critic and curator Meera Menezes who said the following, as a reaction to the link to my blog which hosted the original statement;

“Remember seeing File Room at the Venice Biennale and then being struck by the coincidence when I saw their works at the Photoink booth at the Art Fair. I should share the statement too.”

Dayanita Singh had originally replied to this statement, saying it was incorrect, and that File Room didn’t have any work from the National Instruments Factory. Unfortunately, her comment is no longer available on my profile page, I suppose she must have deleted it. It was a brief version of what I’ve pasted above.

I end this post with the last statement made by Manas and Madhuban  in response to Ms. Singh’s statement and to Meera Menezes’ comment:

“Our statement was necessitated by the accusation, perhaps the most damaging accusation that can be brought against artists, of plagiarizing another artist’s work. The real issue is not whether Ms Singh’s images were made in the National Instruments factory, but the striking similarity in both content and form of presentation between Post Datum and File Room that has raised the question of plagiarism in people’s minds. What really bothered us is that without checking the date of origin of the works, everybody just assumed that we had copied from her work. Since a very large cross-section of curators, critics, artists and writers have been commenting on this resemblance between the works (thank you Meera Menezes for your comment), we felt it was necessary to defend ourselves and clarify our position. Thank you, Rosalyn D’mello too for putting things in perspective.”





This entry was published on February 11, 2012 at 12:57 pm. It’s filed under Delhi Art Scene and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Perspective

  1. Girish Shahane on said:

    Hi Rosalyn,

    Thanks for your posts about the issue. It helps to have these things discussed in a forum where the views of Manas and Madhuban as well as those of Dayanita can be heard. I’m sure you know of the controversy, almost three decades old, relating to a Bhopal gas leak related photograph taken by Pablo Bartholomew and a fairly similar one clicked by Ragu Rai. For some reason, there appears to have been no give and take between the two photographers in a public forum regarding those very famous images.

    I hope that the Skoda Prize selection, which has so far been discussed animatedly in private, will eventually make the leap to open debate. Jitish said in an interview that he saw the Prize as the start of a conversation; I agree wholeheartedly, and also believe the conversation will be fruitful only if it takes place in a public domain.


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