At Gandhi Smriti, Digitisation of Bresson’s Photos Prompts Anger
Gandhi’s last moments have been displayed on LED screens without any text, leaving his grandson Tushar Gandhi furious.
Gandhi’s last moments have been displayed on LED screens without any text, leaving his grandson Tushar Gandhi furious.(Photo: Asmita Nandy/The Quint)

At Gandhi Smriti, Digitisation of Bresson’s Photos Prompts Anger

Legendary photographer Henri Cartier Bresson's gallery of photographs of Mahatma Gandhi's last moments at Gandhi Smriti has been digitised and displayed on LED screens in a loop without any text, and his grandson Tushar Gandhi is furious.

While Tushar Gandhi alleges it to be an attempt to obliterate historical evidence, likening it to removing Renaissance paintings at the Louvre and replacing them digitally, Gandhi Smriti director Dipankar Shri Gyan denies the charge and says the display is still under construction.

Renowned French photographer Bresson was the last to have taken photographs of Mahatma Gandhi, just an hour before he was shot dead. The iconic photographer also documented the Mahatma's death and its immediate aftermath. A Twitter user posted the panels before the digitisation, in front of the LED screens.

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Birla House, where he took his last breath on the evening of 30 January 1948, is now Gandhi Smriti, a museum dedicated to the father of the nation.

Tushar Gandhi told PTI the digital format running on LED TV screens at Gandhi Smriti only displays the photographs in a loop, completely ignoring its historical context written in text when the prints were displayed. He said,

“The photographs are running on LED screens like a slideshow with no text. There was no reason why such beautiful prints of Bresson were removed. It’s like removing the paintings of the Rennaissance painters from the Louvre and replacing them digitally. There is no text to explain the situation and people don’t get to know anything from them. There are eyewitnesses accounts of journalists which people used to read. When it comes on the screen without any text, it is just like any other photograph.”
(Photo: Asmita Nandy/The Quint)

Gandhi Smriti Director Gyan said the prints were digitally displayed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the institution in November last year with German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel. Gyan told PTI,

“During that visit, it was digitised for two-three days and again it was done when the PM visited with his Portuguese counterpart (Antonio Costa). The PM had recommended that everything be digitised and we received the orders from the secretary of the Ministry of Culture.”

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The LED display of Bresson's photographs opened for the regular public only four days ago, Gandhi Smriti director Gyan said.

"It is still being worked on and we will incorporate everything in it. We opened it under pressure from the public who wanted to see the display. It is still under construction," he added.

Tushar Gandhi also said the photographs on display were prints of the originals gifted by Bresson himself to Gandhi Smriti and thus, had artistic value. He said on Twitter,

(With PTI inputs)

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