An Insider as a Stranger

The fish,even in the fisherman’s net,still carries,the smell of the sea,” Palestinian poet and writer Mourid Barghouti had once said.

Written by Pallavi Pundir | Published: July 5, 2012 2:46:02 am

The fish,even in the fisherman’s net,still carries,the smell of the sea,” Palestinian poet and writer Mourid Barghouti had once said. One would find this phrase ubiquitously applicable to Naga photographer Zubeni Lotha,as the metaphorical fish. In 2010,the freelance photographer found herself in a compelling situation as she — after years of studying away from her home town,Dimapur — put herself on the “strange” streets of the city. The result: an ongoing personal photographic narrative of the city and its people,called “Portraits of Dimapur”,which will be exhibited in the Capital this month.

Currently shuttling between Delhi and Dimapur,this is Lotha’s first solo exhibition in the country and is her effort to shatter some stereotypes about the Northeastern city. “My aim wasn’t to put across any sense of history since that would make my works political in nature,” says Lotha,who is in her thirties, “It’s more of a personal narrative of this place where I was born and is kind of an intimate refuge. Yet,given that my growing-up days were spent away from it,I ended up never understanding the city or its people. My photographs are fleeting images of Dimapur,” adds Lotha.

The entire project,Lotha admits,has been a challenging one. “I’m still trying to find a landmark I can relate the city to. After all these years in Delhi,I associate it with certain monuments or structures. But in Dimapur,I asked myself if there is any — since it’s a young town and is still developing,while Delhi has already seen much history. Plus,unlike people in Delhi who are used to being photographed by the media,people in Dimapur who were being photographed thought it was a big deal,” she says.

Inspired by prominent photographers such as Sally Mann,Hiroh Kikai and Malick Sidibe,among others,and after briefly working for Delhi-based photographer Pablo Bartholomew,Lotha says her next series in the “Portraits of Dimapur” project will be more “intimate”. A tad reserved when it comes to displaying her works,Lotha was convinced to exhibit her photographs by the people she has captured. “There will be another one,hopefully,depending on how people react to this one,” she says.

“Portraits of Dimapur” will be on at India International Centre from July 19 to 26.

Entry is free. Contact: 24609323

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