From Bollywood to Hindu mythology and Islamic symbolism, the streets of Delhi are flooded with posters of Salman Khan, yesteryear’s beauty queen Madhubala, Mecca-Medina and Hindu pantheon of gods। Tasveer Ghar or House of pictures is working at collecting these posters to study the popular culture transcending boundaries।

Tasveer Ghar started out as an initiative in 2006 as a transnational home for collecting, digitizing and documenting various materials churned out by south Asia’s colourful and pluralistic visual medium. It will accord itself as a digital network of south Asian visual popular culture comprising of posters, calendar art, pilgrim maps, cinema hoardings and other forms of street and bazaar art.

The visual art forms an important part of urban popular culture. According to Tasveer, “Through popular art forms, it reflects the changing social tastes and aesthetics of our society.”

Arshad Amanullah, a curatorial associate at Tasveer Ghar, says, “The colonial culture was mainly represented by print medium. The question now is whether the culture can be interpreted through visual arts for understanding the social make up.”

Tasveer Ghar hopes to provide access to the creative players like academicians, artists, thereby promoting cross cultural scholarly exchange. Amanullah adds: “We want to create a democratic space and push forward a dialogue and debate related to south Asian visual culture.”

Tasveer Ghar has three institutional nodes-University of Michigan Ann Arbor, U.S.A, University of Heidelberg (Germany) and Sarai at the Center for Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi.

The project Director of Tasveer Ghar in Delhi, Yousuf Saeed, who is an independent filmmaker has been working on plural symbolism in Muslim calendar art.. By collecting posters and certain audio-video clips symbolic of Islam, he has been studying and interpreting the stereotypes attached to Islam by the media.

“Islam has gone through cultural influence in the Indian sub continent,” Saeed opines.

“Tasveer Ghar aims to act as a resource pool and a reference point for academicians and artist through visualization of all kinds of art,” adds Amanullah.

Apart from offering short term fellowships for the collection and documentation of popular visual arts, Tasveer Ghar also encourages contribution of images, archival and rare material for digitizing. The contributions are compensated with an honorary amount after digitizing free of charge.

So next time when you have something rare and archival to share, you know where to head।

By Moonis Ahmed