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Exhibition Launch

Monday 16 September at 5.30 pm

Ariadne van de Ven (1961-2017) bequeathed the archive of her photographic work to the Royal Anthropological Institute when she died of cancer in 2017. Ariadne was a member of the RAI’s Photo Committee and her observations of Kolkata’s people and streets are a rich visual resource.

Born in the Netherlands, Ariadne moved to London, which she loved, in 1987 and where she met her future partner and husband, John. She worked at Book House, then in publishing as a publicity manager and freelance for many years and co-founded the Women in Publishing International Committee.

Following a visit to Kolkata she became fascinated with the life of the city, and started to make annual visits from 2002 to photograph both the city and its citizens. She formed friendships and collaborations with Kolkata-based writers and photographers and especially with members of Drik, an activist photographic agency. Ariadne was no casual visitor: she wanted to understand and to support. She travelled miles by public transport and on foot, communicating despite language barriers. She would print photographs when she was back in London and then take great pains on her next visit to seek out the participants to give them copies.

The writings included here describe her approach to photography and the deep, wide-ranging thinking that informed it. This relationship and interaction between thinking and practice is very characteristic of her approach to both photography and writing, and is reflected in her thesis The Eyes of the Street Look Back, written for the MA course in Photography and Urban Cultures at Goldsmith’s.

Ariadne believed strongly that her portraits were a collaboration between herself and the person she was photographing and are a very much a shared moment of interaction. Her observations of the city are equally nuanced, with an understanding that things are never quite as they seem.

She was a film photographer and made all her own prints, including all work in this exhibition. She was also a great help to other photographers and a pivotal member of London independent Photography’s Central London group. Her comments on other people’s work were always insightful and supportive, especially to people new to photography and finding their own vision and voice.

This event is free, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please go to https://ariadnevandeven.eventbrite.co.uk

Location : Royal Anthropological Institute
50 Fitzroy Street
United Kingdom