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Race, gender, identity: From the viewfinder to the wide canvas

The event will comprise exhibitions and workshops and will be held from March 12 to 26.

Written by AMRUTA LAKHE | Mumbai |
Updated: March 19, 2015 1:15:54 pm

Don’t be surprised if you walk into one of your regular hangouts such as Cafe Zoe for a burger and find the walls adorned with street photographs of Mumbai by Sunhil Sippy. Or stop at The White Owl for a freshly brewed beer and find contemporary works by photographers Fabien Charuau and Nikhil D about the vibrant and rich culture of the North-East.

The second Focus Photography Festival Mumbai is converting Mumbai hotspots into gallery spaces to spread the love of photography.

The second edition of the biennial photography festival, first held in 2013, aims to brings art out of conventional spaces. “We want to make good art accessible not just to professionals and regular gallery-goers but also to beginners, by placing it in an everyday context,” says Matthieu Foss, who with art curator Elise Foster Vander Elst and British architect Nicola Antaki is organising the two-week festival from March 12 to 26.

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While the last edition was held primarily at venues around South Mumbai, this year, the festival has grown in scale. It boasts of more than 30 exhibitions and workshops spread across venues in Colaba, Kala Ghoda, Lower Parel, Bandra, Khar and Vikhroli.

Apart from unconventional spaces, galleries such as Gallery Maskara, Chatterjee & Lal, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke will run solo and group photo exhibitions throughout the duration of the festival.

“‘The theme of this year’s edition is ‘Crossover’. We want to invite ideas that are breaking the boundaries of race, gender, migration, and identity. This is apt for a festival in cosmopolitan city like Mumbai,” Foss said.

For instance, the exhibition at the Art Entrance Gallery, in Kala Ghoda by Arpan Mukherjee titled ‘Fairer People = Beautiful People = Powerful People’ talks about the concept of beauty and society’s obsession with skin colour.

Another show at High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel called, ‘Ungender’, by Kolkata-based photographer Bikramjit Bose, throws light on the blurring lines between masculine and feminine ideas of identity.

An important highlight of the festival includes a mega exhibition titled ‘Call For Entries’, of over 100 national and international photographers held at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Byculla.

Another interesting event, especially for aspiring photographers, is a portfolio reading workshop held at The Hive, Chuim Village in Bandra. Here, amateur photographers will get an opportunity to interact with veterans in the field on a one-on-one basis and get feedback on their work.

An exciting addition to this year’s programme is an outdoor photographic intervention called Blowup Bandra which will be held on Saturday. Organised by Bangalore-based photography forum called blindboys.org the project will bring photographic projections and pasteups of pictures onto the streets of Mumbai.

“We have zeroed in on around 11 unusual spaces around Bandra such as a local Udipi joint, a community centre, a bike garage and an abandoned parking lot. We’ve invited people to send us photographs that we will print and put these works up,” says Akshay Mahajan, who heads the organisation. “We will put up as many photos as we can. We want to turn the streets of the city into vibrant ad-hoc galleries.”

amruta.lakhe@expressindia.com

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