William Gedney (1932 – 1989) is one of the key figures of American street photography. His work in India is the series to which he devoted the most time in the field and the last he labored to organize and edit. An intensely private man, Gedney's photographs were largely unknown in his lifetime outside of a few colleagues and curators, including John Szarkowski, who wrote: “His pictures reward us with real knowledge of the lives of specific people. Being a good witness, he does not attempt to direct our verdict concerning the quality of these lives. He does allow us to see that they are in many ways much like our own.” This description illuminates William Gedney's in-depth work in India, where he created an intimate portrait of the people he encountered, finding beauty and mystery amidst the harsh realities of daily life. This exhibition is the first devoted exclusively to Gedney's photographs of India and was originally shown in 2017 at the Jehangir Nicholson Gallery in Mumbai, India.
The William Gedney Photographs and Papers collection in the Rubenstein Library houses the entirety of his photographic work, his notebooks and journals, his handmade books and book project materials. This exhibition is curated by Shanay Jhaveri, Margaret Sartor, and Devika Singh and organized by the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in collaboration with the Duke University Libraries, and support from Dr. Sumathi Ramaswamy and the Duke India Initiative.
This exhibition was sponsored in part by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.