A photo exhibition, “The African Portraits” , featuring 45 intimate portraits of of Africans living in India clicked by Bengaluru-based photographer Mahesh Shantaram, was inaugurated at NID’s PG campus design gallery in Gandhinagar on Thursday. The exhibition will be on till October 24. The show will also travel to cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and Bengaluru.
“The general response shared with me was that people in India are generally scared to befriend people from the African community. I wanted my portraits of African person to show them not as victims, but as survivors. From all the stories of discrimination that I heard from my subject, one thing that emerged was that what unites us Indians is our racism,” said Shantaram, who gave a two-hour talk on his work and also interacted with students.
He told this paper , “My work holds the mirror to our society and is about India, Indians and Indianness. Many African students told me that most of their classmates in colleges that they studied at did not want to share a bench with them, befriend them. Many said that they even go to ‘African-only churches’ as they get stared at when they go to regular churches. Such is the level of discrimination they face here in India that there is complete isolation of the community here. NID students were interested in knowing how to treat a subject like racism in a creative medium. But simply showing photographs is not enough, there has to be serious talk or discussions around such subjects.”