August 28 – November 29, 2021
For this series, I traveled to one of the last Muslim-ruled princely states in India, also my family’s ancestral home.
Rampur is a small city four hours north of Delhi that many Indians have never heard of. The city has the highest Muslim population in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous and poorest state. According to the 2011 census, just half Rampur’s 2.3 million residents can read.
The city has seen better times. It has also seen worse. Rampur’s former rulers, called Nawabs, constructed palaces, mosques, and a fort. The Nawabs valued culture: They cultivated music, collected books, listened to poetry, developed cuisine. They also ruled with clenched fists, ready to punish those who dared defy them — and also those who did not. My grandfather, head physician to Nawab Raza Ali Khan, was sent to London to continue his medical studies. Later, he was told not return.
For this project, I returned to India to discover a city, culture, and country that I never knew. My family’s ties to the city intrigued me. I visited my uncle, who still lives in the family home. I read early 20th century texts and learned that Pathans, my family’s ethnic lineage, were considered a warrior race, admired — and vilified.
My photographs explore the city’s architecture, people, and play with the formality of Indian-style portraiture popular during the pre-world war era. This series explores the history of the city, and also its present state, existing under the shadow of Hindu nationalism. -TK
Tira Khan’s photographs explore the meaning of family, the formal and informal moment, and the architecture of place. Her images are often personal, and she finds that elements of our daily lives often reflect broad, universal themes.
Tira enjoys shooting straight from the camera, as well as pushing the bounds of what is a photograph. Her images include documentary and collage.
Tira was recently invited to exhibit in the Photographic Resource Center’s 25th Annual Exposure Exhibition, juried by Kris Graves. Her work was previously selected for Exposure by Christopher Rauschenberg. Two of her photographic series were finalists in Critical Mass, Photolucida’s national photography contest. She has exhibited her work nationally, as well as Athens, Greece, and Barcelona, Spain. Her Growing Up Girl series has been featured in Der Spiegel, Lenscratch, and Musee Magazine. In addition, her documentary photographs have been published in the The Boston Globe, and The New York Times Lens Blog.
As an editorial photographer, Tira has worked for Bloomberg Businessweek, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Woz, Teen Vogue, and The Seattle Times. She began her career as a writer, working as a staff reporter at daily newspapers.
A selection of her photographs were published in We Who March, a book on the 2017 Women’s March.