“What was the one major difference between the cameras of yesteryears and today, which has had a major impact on how we photograph?” When Aditya Arya asks this question to visitors at the Museo Camera’s booth at the ongoing India Art Fair in the national capital, multiple long answers emerge from different people.
After listening to everybody, he simply says — “the delete button”.
“Museums don’t trade in the things, they don’t sell anything but educate people. We are beyond galleries. We are about the education and the history of photographic art. We do not trade in artefact but are interested in engagement. Before the pandemic hit, several hundred school children would visit the museum every day. As things get better, we would like to reach out to more people,” Arya, Founder Director of Gurugram-based ‘Museo Camera: Centre For Photographic Arts’ which boasts of Asia’s largest collection of cameras, tells IANS.
For him, engagement with the public implies history, the history of art, photography and many related genres like Photojournalism.
In a country that has very few private museums unlike the west, Arya says that museums have always been made by people with deep pockets.
“Well, in my case, my father was a Professor at DU, and I have never worked a regular job. Whatever is in the museum has been collected slowly during my freelance years out of passion. Frankly, it’s not about what all is owned by the museum, but the history behind the story of photography — these are thoughts that need to be collected.”
Stressing that he would like to introduce the young to the kind of photography that existed before the ‘delete’ button appeared on cameras, he says, “That was the time when you paid absolute attention to all factors — you were forced to create perfect images as rolls were limited. Now a hundred shots of the same scenario can be taken and the best one selected. In fact, we worked with several major schools in NCR and taught them how to create prints.”
Arya feels that the need of the hour is to teach the young ‘how to see’.
“Art appreciation is an important component of school education abroad. You do not have to make students artists, but in order to ensure that they learn how to appreciate the arts, why not take them on a journey they will cherish for a lifetime? Ever since we started, this has been an important part of our programming.”
In a world that will now have to learn to live with the pandemic, he feels that the years spent practising this art have made him ready for any eventuality, and improvisation has become second nature.
“We belong to a time where we had to carry film cameras and could take limited shots. A photographer can be successful only if he understands the uncertainties of life. The mind is always working.”
Considering the fact that the pandemic hit just five months after the museum was inaugurated, Arya is currently busy addressing different aspects of the mammoth institution.
“It took a serious hit during the pandemic and we are now taking several measures for making up lost time.”