old indian photos
2016
forged antique photographs 
variable dimensions

These photographs were purchased in 2016 from Leens Export, an antique shop in the tourist bazaar of Jew Town in Mattanchery.

Although depicting scenes from as early as the 1800s, a close examination of these prints revealed clear signs of digital mediation - for instance, traces such as pixelation and artificial toning to indicate aging. Each photograph was also mounted on vintage cardstock, many of which contained varying markers of time that clearly conflicted with the timelines depicted in the images. 

Following my purchase of these prints, I digitised them and searched the internet for their ‘original’ sources. While some photographs were well known - with clear references to subject and photographer - others were more obscure. One of them appeared within the Wikipedia entry for ‘family’, while some were taken not in India, but in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). All images however, found a common source in a website called oldindianphotos.in - presumably also the site where the forgerers found them (and a healthy source of many more productions to come).

The images now exist as a suspended collection, belonging to neither the forgery market nor with its intended owner, the international tourist, but as an aesthetic object indexing questions of authorship, technological mediation, the copy, and faulty historicity.

Published in:
#exstrange: A Curatorial Intervention on Ebay, Maize Books