Delhi Photo Festival: Through the Looking Glass

In its third edition, the Delhi Photo Festival, which opens next week, carries forward the tradition of bringing the best from across the world.

Written by Somya Lakhani , Pallavi Pundir | Updated: October 24, 2015 1:40 pm
Photographie issue de la sŽrie The Others (Phase 1). Inde 2009-2013 Picture from the series The Others (Phase 1). India 2009-2013 The Delhi Photo Festival will be held from October 30 to November 8. In pic is Olivier Culmann’s series of self portraits called ‘The Other’.

In 2011, an ambitious photography festival, at India Habitat Centre, began a conversation that was long overdue — that of looking at photography less as a personal craft and more as a global art movement. Started by Prashant Panjiar and Dinesh Khanna, called Delhi Photo Festival (DPF), it was inspired by mega affairs such as Chobi Mela in Dhaka and the Singapore International Photography Festival. DPF, however, has had a larger agenda: to put India on the international photography map.

Four years later, as its third edition gets ready at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), DPF still stands as the largest event in the country that hails the form. This year’s theme is “Aspire”, and brings to us a mammoth selection from the latest in the world of global photography. “It’s no longer just mine and Dinesh’s vision. A lot of younger photographers such as Sumit Dayal are a part of the team, and have taken important curatorial decisions,” says Panjiar.

Here’s what to expect:

Michael Drost-Hansen on Rohingya Muslims.

The Personal and the Intimate
In 2012, Rahul Kumar Das’s life changed. His father got paralysed due to brain haemorrhage, and the Bangladeshi photographer automatically assumed the role of his caretaker. Das’s experiences are captured through Sanguinity. His is one of the many personal photographic narratives at DPF. We also see the odd relationship between siblings through Incipient Strangers by Japanese photographer Yoshikatsu Fuiji. Argentinian photographer Sandy Gutkowski captures her 100-year-old mother in 100 Years, while Simon Wheatley ponders over the world his daughter has taken birth in through Arunika, a series shot in Dimapur. French photographer Olivier Culmann, on the other hand, takes the “personal” literally into The Other, a series of self-portraits taken in tiny studios
across India.

Conflict and Migration
Even as they are unceasing topics in international news, issues of conflict and migration loom larger even now. Italian photographer Emanuele Satolli’s In the Bag for the North sets a familiar visual of what undocumented immigrants take with them on their journey to the US, while Danish Michael Drost-Hansen’s series on the Rohingya Muslims residing in the Rakhine province in Burma, is a remarkable quest in Rohingya. Perhaps one of the most topical series comes from German photographer Christian Werner, whose series on the Yazidis, known for recently being targeted by the ISIS in Iraq, is a shaking visual of displacement and survival.

Josué Alfredo Navarrete, 52, from El Salvador. Emanuele Satolli’s take on what undocumented immigrants take with them on their journey to the US.

The Landscapes
To capture the environment in all its forces — be it nature, a depleting urban landscape, or the natural devastation — this idea brings forth most captivating images. National Institute of Design-graduate Arun Vijai Mathavan, for instance, brings to us Urban Mountains that captures “waste”, a residue of urban living in Indian megapolises. Delhi-based Vinit Gupta, on the other hand, documents Mahan in Madhya Pradesh, its indigenous people and the struggle against the state to hold on to their land in Where They Belong. From French photographer Marylise Vigneau, comes Phnom Penh of the Future, tracing the reckless growth of the city and the palpable thirst for modernity.

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What, Where, When
Delhi Photo Festival will be held from October 30 to November 8 at IGNCA. The curatorial impact, courtesy the expansive space of IGNCA, is exhilarating. The number of selected series run up to 41, along with 15 for the student’s category. Collateral events will be held at other venues across the city, such as National Museum, AIFACS, Alliance Francaise, American Centre and Latitude 28. Visit: delhiphotofestival.com for details.

What’s more
there are also a series of workshops, talks, book launches and performances. While British artist-curator David Campany will deliver the keynote address, there’s also a crucial panel discussion on “What is photography in the 21st century?” Gallery walks will be held every day, and bands and artistes such as Sarker Protick and Jeet Thayil’s Still Dirty will perform. An interesting take on photography comes in the form of “photo poetry”, which will be curated by artist Jesus Clavero Rodriguez on November 3.

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