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In the dark all cats are black 

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Through photographs in urban villages and private spaces occupied by African migrants, in combination with appropriated images and other referents of historical moments, this work reflects on the idea of opacity in relation to African presences in New Delhi. This idea refers to the role of in/visibility in contemporary urban life, including the invisibility of histories that were once part of the imaginaries that moved postcolonial India. Through moments in time the images speak to the instability and fragility of dreams. Relying on the intrinsic ambiguity of the photographic medium, Orrantia takes this same ambiguity to question what we see and how we see the absent presences in the city.

(excerpt, In the dark all cats are black) 

In the stories of movement that belong to the city’s own spirit one can feel the allure of unstable promises. Some of these are nothing more than leftovers of history, the clippings of postcolonial imagination that remain in their absence. Part of the Nehruvian model of modernity, Afro-Asian solidarity belonged to a futurist desire intended to redraft the nation and its cities.

But things don’t usually turn out to be as they are imagined. Postcolonial modernity and its ideals would be unraveled, dismembered, much like its futures.

This city is now filled with absent presences. Some new, some old. Inhabiting narrow lanes, stained walls, markets and dimly lit rooms they fuel desires, almost lustfully. They shift in meaning. They continuously attract and repel. Living between visibility and invisibility, refusing the grasp of representation, they are more comfortable in states of opacity than clarity. 

Sometimes you spoke about them.  And disregarded them at others. And sometimes they spoke back, reminding me of the unstable nature of the road taken.