Habitat Photosphere festival is not only unique for its theme of sustainable development but also because it takes a look at this pertinent issue of environmental degradation through the aesthetic prism of art. ACF reports.
Kerala’s ponds on the verge of extinction, migration in Sunderbans that leaves behind little children learning to fend for themselves, the mighty river Ganga gasping for breath due to pollution, and the all-encompassing Mother Earth – these are four different stories captured by four young photographers with one final result – a photography exhibition that promises to bring into sharp focus the pertinent issue of sustainable development. Being held as the grand finale of Habitat Photosphere, the year-long photography festival initiated by India Habitat Centre and curated by art historian Dr Alka Pande, the one-month-long exhibition titled Panchtattvas: The Road Ahead will be held at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi starting December 1. Harikrishna Katragadda, Monica Tiwari, Shraddha Borawake and K. R Sunil, all awardees of the prestigious Photosphere award, will be showing photographs taken over a period of eight months, each having been mentored in this creative process by renowned, practicing photographers like Parthiv Shah, Bandeep Singh, Prabir Purkayastha and Aditya Arya respectively.
And that’s not all. The four mentors themselves will be showing their own photographic work responding to that of their mentees, while Dr Pande will be presenting an animation work on River Ganga. Adding to the multi-dimensionality of the event, artist Ashim Ghosh will have a set of works on view, apart from a video work called Deep Weather by Swiss artist Ursula Biemann. A film festival on the subject of sustainability curated by Nitin Donde is also scheduled during the course of the month.
Says Dr Alka Pande, Artistic Director, Photosphere: “Sustainable Development is the grand narrative of the Festival and the Panchtattvas is the micro-narrative which strings together photography and sustainable development together. We are a festival with a green conscience evoking the bhaav of sustainable developments across all genres of photography. It is like bringing a fresh life into the world of sustainable development.”
Based in Kochi, Kerala, K.R. Sunil, 40, centers his project around the ponds in Kerala which are on the verge of extinction. “Every pond is a beehive of activities that come alive from dawn to dusk every day. This project takes an ethnographic documentation of each activity – how various sections of population engage with the local ponds from close quarters, both individually and collectively as a group.”
Delhi-based Monica Tiwari, 28, has trained her lens to document the lifestyle changes in children of migrant parents by understanding the effects on their education, health, and social well-being, in the context of global-warming led migration in the Sunderbans, while Mumbai-based Harikrishna Katragadda, 46, titles his project You Can’t Step Into The Same River Twice which focuses on the river Ganga. He says, “I have used elemental processes such as a mark-making using site-specific material on the cyanotype chemical coated paper. This paper, sensitive only to the ultraviolet light, is then scratched with the charred landscape; at times exposed with dead fish and debris found in the contaminated waters of the river. The patterns formed by the Markin cloth on the paper metaphorically represent the river, simultaneously bound and unbound, and signify that nothing is constant in nature.”
Pune/Holland based Shraddha Borwake, 33, has chosen the all-encompassing Earth as the topic for her installation-based photographic project titled Benevolence. “Everything that is an artifact of man is a result of being processed through the 5 elements to create that, which is drawn from the earth,” she says.
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