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TO APRIL 12
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Pradeep Dalal may be an M.I.T.-trained architect, but when he photographs the ancient temples of his native India, the shapes of those buildings ultimately prove less important than the fleeting bits of life that surround them. In the World Bank exhibition “Life Lived in Shade: Photographs of India by Pradeep Dalal,” Dalal indeed competently records the vistas within the temple complexes of Kanchipuram, Mahabalipuram, Srirangam, and Thanjavur. But his most memorable images are less documentary and more candid: a goose ambling placidly in front of a whitewashed wall, a man running up a temple’s stone stairs, a sun-dappled stream of water caught as it cascades from an upturned silver bowl into a receptacle on the ground. Dalal’s overcast lighting conditions sometimes prove oppressive, and his decision to print to his negatives’ borders adds unnecessary distraction to his cold-toned gelatin-silver prints. But in his best images, Dalal—a 10-year Washington resident who works for the American Institute of Architects—marvelously chronicles the unexpected. How can one explain the enormous boulder perched on the edge of a hill in the image Life Lived in Shade (pictured)—or, for that matter, the people standing and resting in its shadow, oblivious to its seemingly flagrant precariousness? Nowhere in the exhibition is it clearer that Dalal has captured the spirit of a sacred place. The show is on view from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, to Friday, April 12, at the World Bank’s H Building Lobby, 600 19th St. NW. Free. (202) 458-0333. (Louis Jacobson)