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Ram Rahman

Public and Private


Photographer, artist, curator, designer and activist Ram Rahman initially studied physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Later, Rahman completed a degree in Graphic Design from Yale University’s School of Art in 1979.


Born in 1955, Rahman has shown his photographs in individual and group shows in India and around the world. His most recent shows include at The Pompidou Centre, Paris, 2017, Houston Fotofest, 2018, Gwangju Biennale, 2018 and the Chennai PhotoBiennale 2019.‘Bioscope: Scenes from an Eventful Life’presented by Bodhi Art at Rabindra Bhavan, New Delhi, in 2008.


Among the shows Rahman has curated are ‘Delhi- Building the Modern’ at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Delhi, 2017; ‘Sunil Janah Vintage Photographs’at the NGMA, Mumbai, October 2015; ’Delhi Modern:The Architectural Photographs of Madan Mahatta’at Photoink, Delhi, in 2012; ‘Heat –Moving Pictures Visions, Phantasms and Nightmares’at Bose Pacia, New York, in 2003; and ‘Sunil Janah Photographs, A Retrospective’at Gallery 678, New York, in 1998.


He has been lecturing on aspects of contemporary Indian photography and architecture in the last few years at The BhauDaji Lad Museum, Mumbai; Jnanapravah, Mumbai; MoMA, New York; The Pompidou Centre, Paris and Tate Modern, London. He has given major lectures on Sunil Janah, Raghubir Singh and the modern architecture of New Delhi.


Rahman is one of the founding members of the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) in New Delhi, a leading organisation in the resistance to communal and sectarian forces in India through its public cultural action. He was the co-curator of the Sahmat retrospective exhibition which opened at the Smart Museum, University of Chicago in February 2013 and travelled across the US and Canada. The artist lives and works in New Delhi.


His photographs are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Pompidou Centre, Paris; The Metropolitan Museum, New York; The Devi Art Foundation, Delhi, and private collections.

Public and Private

My photographs are documents of a mix of my public wanderings and personal encounters. They are diary notations of events and reflections on the markers of our politics and culture. 

The 10 pictures in this series represent a period spread across four decades. Most of them are political in nature. These political images also show two kinds of narratives at play: The inner circles of ruling class and the public in the periphery of a democratic state. While the older black and white images of politicians (Mulayam Singh Yadav, Amar Singh, Ram Vilas Paswan, Phoolan Devi among others) show Delhi as a seat of power, two colour photographs (Tamil Nadu farmers protesting with human skulls and a gutted school during the 2020 riots against the anti-CAA protests) show another Delhi that lies in the periphery.

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