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Kanchipuram photographer bags largest grant for lens-based practitioners in South Asia

Kumar, a resident of Kanchipuram, was selected out of a shortlist of 10 lens-based practitioners from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar

The jury selected Kumar out of "hundreds of applications". (Photo: Twitter/@arts_trust)

Tamil Nadu-based photographer Purushothaman Sathish Kumar has bagged the first-ever Serendipity Arles Grant (SAG), the largest photography, video and new media grant in South Asia, SAG has announced.

Kumar, a resident of Kanchipuram, was selected out of a shortlist of 10 lens-based practitioners from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

He will receive Rs 12 lakh to develop his winning project and show the final presentation at Rencontres d’Arles, an annual summer photography festival in France in 2022.


An initiative of the Serendipity Arts Foundation and Les Rencontres d’Arles, the grant is aimed at “empowering artists from South Asia, as well as extending a spirit of regional cooperation and representation by promoting cultural practices in South Asia”.

The jury that selected Kumar out of “hundreds of applications” comprised Ravi Agarwal, (artist, environmental campaigner, writer and curator), Dayanita Singh (photographer and author), Tanzim Wahab (curator and teacher), Devika Singh (curator of International Art at Tate Modern), Christoph Wiesner (Director of Rencontres d’Arles) and Smriti Rajgarhia, Director, Serendipity Arts Foundation & Festival.

“We would like to congratulate Purushothaman Sathish Kumar on being declared the winner of SAG 2020-21. We look forward to seeing his work on a bigger scale and to showcase these at the next edition of the Serendipity Arts Festival.

“We are pleased to have such a crucial collaboration with Rencontres d’Arles, and build an association which helps to further our mandate of supporting artists from the South Asian region while promoting their work on a global platform,” Rajgarhia said.

In an attempt to recognise the efforts of the applications, SAG has additionally extended a production grant to all ten shortlisted candidates who will be showcasing their work at the next edition of the Serendipity Arts Festival.

“The collaboration between our two festivals will be a great opportunity to reveal and support each year in Arles a new artist among the production of a great variety and quality of photographers from the South Asian regions,” Wiesner said.

The French ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain also extended his congratulations to Kumar.

“France looks forward to welcoming him at Rencontres d’Arles, a platform known for the best of contemporary world photography, and with which India has a sustained association.

“France’s support to this programme — especially crucial given the pandemic’s deleterious impact — is a testimony of its commitment to the arts, to cultural dialogue, to the artistic community,’ he said.

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