Following the Box: An Artistic Exploration of an Archive of Anonymous Photographs from India

Following the Box is an art exhibit inspired by a collection of found photographs taken in India by an
unknown U.S. serviceman towards the end of WWII. The exhibit features:
• 30 vintage 4×5” photographs, a selection from the 127 images in the collection.
• The creative work of 12 contemporary artists—2 American and 10 Indian—inspired by the old
photos. Artistic disciplines include painting, photography, film, mixed-media, installation,
graphic arts, graphic novel, book art and folk art.
• A documentary film that would be screened at selected times during the exhibition.
• A series of public lectures on the strong historical and cultural relationship between India and
the United States; on the implications of a cross-cultural look at historical imagery; on the
stories that can emerge from exploring family album photos; on the impact that digital
technology will have on the future’s visual understanding of the past.
• Workshops with several of the participating Indian artists, all experienced teachers.

This 1,700-2,500 sq. ft. exhibit was funded initially through a Fulbright-Nehru award and subsequent U.S. State Department grants. It has been successfully shown at the Birla Academy of Art and Culture in Kolkata (2015); at the Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts in Delhi (2016); at the Loyola University Museum of Art in Chicago (2018); at the University of Southern California’s Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena (2019) and at the Lilley Art Museum at the University of Nevada in Reno (2022).

The project’s website includes all found images; the artists’ work; curators’ statements; historical
context; links to extensive press coverage and more: You may see an
overview of the LUMA installation shown on PBS here: Detailed space
requirements available on request.

Following the Box employed a unique collaborative approach that involves the curators as working
artists—participant conduits—whose artistic efforts are shown alongside that of their Indian
colleagues, a self-reflective exploration of historic images using a cross-cultural perspective. Each
artist was given digital and/or print copies of the photographs and asked to incorporate the images
directly into their work; deconstruct them; or simply use the images as a catalyst for their imagination.

Photographs are both windows to another time and place and mirrors of ourselves and the diverse
worlds in which we live. The curators’ goal is to explore different methods of understanding the
images, opening a dialogue about the ways in which American and Indian perspectives and memories might vary. At a time when different interpretations are often feared, this exhibit rejoices in those differences.

Following the Box is a visual conversation between Americans and Indians across space, time and
culture, a mystery tale of old photographs and a celebration of new artistic interpretations.

Download the full prospectus here.

Categories: Traveling Exhibitions