By Prarthana Mitra
Last month, several Indian photographers and visual storytellers were rewarded for their continued efforts behind the camera, holding a mirror to hitherto unexplored facets of our subcontinent. It has been a great time for our image-makers with the last few years bringing international acclaim and recognition for the likes of Ronny Sen, Sohrab Hura and Sarker Protick.
Celebrating the multiple recipients of prestigious photography fellowships, grants and international awards, Qrius spoke to a few of the winners, grantees and finalists, who are breaking new grounds with their photographic work, both in terms of technique and theme. While most of them have been honing their skills for as long as they can remember with a lot of exhibitions and awards under their belt, many early-career photographers, journalists, artists and activists have also been given the opportunity to further explore their personal and national histories through photography.
A Magnum Opus
On May 30, the Magnum Foundation Fund announced the recipients of its 2018 grant, which encourages photographers to explore “new models of storytelling” with special emphasis on commitment to social issues.
Sarker Protick is a photographer from Bangladesh who Exodus series focuses on abandoned feudal estates and decaying landscapes in Bangladesh following the 1947 partition of Bengal, and is one of the eight winning projects chosen from among 151 proposals from 29 different countries by Magnum Foundation this year. Sarker, who has been exploring the dynamic relationship between land, its rulers and subjects through his photographs, tells a story of disenfranchisement and disintegration entrenched in Bengal’s history under the colonial rule.
The Foundation also announced its 2018 Photography and Social Justice Fellows that aims to support a diverse group of photographers who seek to challenge social injustice and advance human rights through photography. Among the ten recipients who will receive intensive training in New York City later this year is Indian photographerRohit Saha. Selected from more than 600 applicants, Saha is on his way to becoming one of the “effective storytellers, creative leaders, and changemakers.”
Showcasing Invisible Photographers
Invisible Photographer Asia announced the 2018 finalists for its Young Portfolio Award (YPA) last week. The programme aims to spotlight and champion excellence in photography art and practice in Asia.
“The Sixth Sense”, writes Chatterjee, is a series of portraits of visually impaired students from a blind school in Kolkata that sheds light on the relationship between reality and sight through the construction and interpretation of their dreams. In a quest to understand the nature of their reality, he interviewed them about their perception of reality which is based on absence. I wanted to explore their dreams, by analysing their dreams and responding to them visually, adds the Mass Communication and Journalism graduate.
“What Does It Take to Live?” is a series of polaroids taken over the course of his travels, featuring a collaboration with fellow artist Trina Sen, who painted over the photographs to render a new meaning and answer to the titular question.
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@Regrann from @tasveerarts – NEW ON THE TASVEER JOURNAL | What Does It Take to Live? A collaboration between @isutirtha and @trinasen17, What Does It Take to Live? brings together the two mediums of painting and photography; not simply as aesthetic pursuit, but in order to produce a fresh perspective in their coming together and create unique and new meanings. Follow the link in our bio and explore the series on the Tasveer Journal #tasveerarts #tasveerjournal #paintedphotograph #contemporaryphotography #indianphotography #sutirthachatterjee #trinasen #whatdoesittaketolive #collaboration – #regrann
Sharafat Ali, a photojournalist from Kashmir whose series The Cost of Conflict also ranks among the YPA finalists, spoke to Qrius after the nominees were announced. Ali, 24, who has spent years documenting the ground reality in the strife-ridden state, dedicates his latest project to the daily lives of Kashmiris who have lived through conflict for almost three decades now.
Inspired and mentored by photographer Showkat Nanda, Ali is a dedicated storyteller first, and a documentary photographer later. Currently a student of visual arts and former (and only) recipient of the Ian Perry grant in Asia, he wants to change people’s minds and bring about a much-needed change in the government’s attitude to the Kashmiri problem by basing his long-term photographic projects on the themes of conflict, politics, faith and daily life in Kashmir. “I don’t want to cover anything violent because that has been done extensively. I feel that the other aspects of Kashmir have remained undiscovered and unreported,” adding that such close proximity to the mass confusion and pervasive hopelessness at times take an emotional toll on him.
“I believe the outcome of impactful visuals comes into existence when you spend time understanding your subject and the context behind he/she has been through, without an intent to exploit their suffering,” adds Ali.
Qrius congratulates all the winners and finalists for doing service to delicate and unique stories that needed to be told, visually and responsibly.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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