Category Archives: Arts

#DPF 2015 interview: Artist and curator David Campany

Nine questions with the keynote speaker for the Delhi Photo Festival 2015. David Campany who is a writer, curator and artist who works with photography.

1. You are a prolific writer. How do you balance your time between writing, teaching and curatorial work?

Ha. The real balance is between all those things and family life! Writing has become a vital form of thinking for me. I genuinely don’t know what to think, or even how to think about photography unless I’m writing it down. So the need to write is closely wedded to the need to think. Beyond that I guess I’m prolific because my enthusiasms for photography and for the uncertainties it generates have not waned since I got interested as a kid. That came as a surprise.

I thought photography was going to be another fad for me, like stamp collecting. Decades on, I’m still interested and still grazing on the lower slopes of my own ignorance. I would also say that photography can be a license to be interested in anything that it takes as its subject matter, which is pretty much anything. Politics, natures, cities, people, objects, superstition, science, history, anthropology, power, you name it. By definition, photography cannot be autonomous or isolated. It’s implicated in the world and the word is implicated in it. When photography is only photography it isn’t even photography.

2. What draws you to writing about photography? And as a writer, how difficult is it to interpret a photographer’s work for the reader?

I had no intentions of being a writer, until in my late twenties I was invited to write a couple of essays. On the basis of those I was approached to write a big survey book about photography in art since the 60s. I was teaching at that point, which meant I had spent a lot of time trying to express complex ideas and connections as simply as I could. The writing grew directly out of that. I write for my 19 year-old self, trying to interest him, prick him, help him notice things, tell him he’s not alone. Interpretation for others? I slightly wince at that idea. In writing about images one does, it inevitably. But it’s something a writer should be wary of. I don’t want to occlude what the reader might think about things. I want to supplement it.

An untitled photograph by David Campny

‘Limousine’, 2008, from the project Adventures in the Valley, by David Campany & Polly Braden

3. Where do you get the time to practise your own work as an artist? Do you view yourself as a photo practitioner?
I remember reading an interview long ago with the British artists Gilbert & George. They were asked: “What made you want to be artists?” A boring question but the answer was great: “We didn’t set out to be artists. All we wanted was to be with art.” That is a great answer because it is not a careerist answer. For what ever reason I’ve wanted to be with photography and I’ve not worried too much about what form that might take – writing, curating exhibitions, teaching, making photographs, working with found photographs, editing. In fact the last one – editing – is probably the key. Every photographer must edit and so must every writer.

4. What are the biggest challenges facing photographers today?

There are as many answers to that as there are photographers. If you push me harder I would say there are three things, in no particular order. Money. The high standards of the past. The dizzying range of possibilities offered by the medium.

David Campany portrait

David Campany portrait

5. Is there a crisis in photography at this time?

Photography has always been in crisis. It’s a modern medium, so how could it not be in crisis? That’s what’s so compelling about it.

6. Where does the future of photography lie? In photobooks, on Instagram and social media, or on the gallery wall and in art institutions?

I never speculate. I’ve learned never to rule anything out. Ten years ago who would have thought printed matter would have had such a renaissance? The interest shown by photography in the art world has ebbed and flowed for decades. That won’t change. And who knows what individual brilliance will appear?

7. What are the exciting photobooks that one must look out for in 2015?

Justine Kurland will publish Highway Kind soon. I’m very much looking forward to that. She documents particular sub-cultures living away from mainstream society and its values. I presented a little preview of the work in my anthology The Open Road: Photographic Road Trips across America. David Batchelder’s Tidelands is published soon. He’s been photographing sand patterns on the same beach for years. Photography attracts all kinds of obsessives who ignore what’s going on around them and just do their own thing. The non-conformity of that is to be cherished.

8. While photography becomes a mass vehicle owing to the growth in technology and smartphones, will ‘fine art photography’ become increasingly more popular and accessible?

Fine art photography is for anyone but for everyone.

9. Tell us about your curatorial work, specifically your exhibition on Walker Evans for this summer’s Les Rencontres d’Arles. Its aims, challenges and reception.

Walker Evans (1903-1975) is as celebrated and canonical as a photographer can get. But the terms of that recognition have been pretty narrow, set by the big museums. His achievements were far wider. For example Evans made extraordinary work for mainstream magazines, setting his own assignments, shooting, writing the captions, designing his own layouts. He managed to fashion a sort of counter-commentary on America and its values from within its mass media. He hated celebrity, consumerism, waste and market-driven design. So instead he championed anonymous workers, conservation and vernacular culture. This work feels very contemporary, and it could be a beacon for all photographers with critical minds who have to ask themselves how they are going to survive without compromising themselves artistically or politically. So I spent years tracking down and buying up copies of the old magazines in which he published this work. I wrote a book about it and the magazines then became the basis of a traveling exhibition. I guess the project is an example of the way the official history of photography is still very much alive and contested. Exhibited printed matter is tricky, so alongside the original pages we made large blow-ups for the wall, to make them comfortable to read. The reception has been very pleasing both from visitors and the press. It shows there’s an appetite for this kind of rethinking.

About David Campany: David Campany, writes, curates exhibitions, makes art and teaches a range of modules in photographic theory and practice, from undergraduate to doctoral study. His books include: A Handful of Dust (MACK 2015), Walker Evans: the magazine work (Steidl 2014), Gasoline (MACK, 2013), Photography and Cinema (Reaktion 2008) and Art and Photography (Phaidon 2003). In 2013, he curated major shows of the work of Mark Neville (The Photographer’s Gallery, London) and Victor Burgin (AmbikaP3 and Richard Saltoun Gallery). In 2014 he curated three shows of the work of Walker Evans. He currently teaches at the University of Westminster, UK.

For more click here: www.davidcampany.com

Register for the 2015 edition of DPF 

For more on #DPF 2015, log on here:

David Campany is the keynote speaker for the third edition of the Delhi Photo Festival that will be held from Oct 30-Nov 8.

This post is courtesy of Gauri Vij, Delhi Photo Festival 2015

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Livestream of Hamlet on 18 October: Globe Theatre in Bangalore


finalStats

The British Council live streamed the production of Hamlet on 18 October, 2015 at 7:30 pm. The live stream is now over.

SHAKESPEARE’S GLOBE PRESENTS

HAMLET
by William Shakespeare

Directed by Dominic Dromgoole and Bill Buckhurst

Designed by Jonathan Fensom

Composed by Bill Barclay

Original Music Laura Forrest-Hay

A Globe Theatre production of Hamlet (C) Bronwen Sharp

A Globe Theatre production of Hamlet (C) Bronwen Sharp

About Hamlet:

Learning of the king his father’s death, Hamlet comes home to find his uncle married to his mother and installed on the Danish throne. At night, the ghost of the old king demands that Hamlet avenge his “foul and most unnatural murder”.

Encompassing political intrigue and sexual obsession, philosophical reflection and violent action, tragic depth and wild humour, Hamlet is Shakespeare’s “poem unlimited”, a colossus in the story of the English language and the fullest expression of Shakespeare’s genius.

Lasting only two-and-a-half hours and touring to every country in the world over two years, a handful of travelling players will perform a raw, thrillingly elemental production of this inexhaustible play.

 

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World Skills India: Fine Jewellery Making regional finals held in Jaipur

Sixteen-year-old Sanjoy Pramanik, a jewellery artisan from Bangalore has come a long way – not just geographically but for also creating better opportunities for himself. Pramanik comes from a small village in the Hooghly district of West Bengal and never stepped foot outside his village, until one day a close relative introduced him to the jewellery industry of Bangalore. Now he is among the four shortlisted candidates who could represent India in the Fine Jewellery making competition in the World Skills UK, The Skills Show, to be held in Birmingham this November.

 

World Skills India, Finals of regional round of Fine Jewellery Making in Jaipur

World Skills India, Finals of regional round of Fine Jewellery Making in Jaipur

This is the first of its kind opportunity created for India as part of a learning and skill building tour created by the British Council and supported by UKIERI (UK India Education and Research Initiative) in partnership with the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) to participate in the World Skills UK show. “I come from a small village where my father picks beetal leaves for a living and my mother takes care of the house. I do not have any elder siblings who can earn for the family this so I had to find work outside my village, in Bangalore,” says Pramanik, who recently got selected in the Finals of the regional rounds of the World Skills India held in Jaipur between 18-19th September. Pramanik has been in the jewellery industry as an artisan since he was 13 and works with a private jeweller in Bangalore creating bespoke pieces. Earning money was the best incentive for him to drop out of school.

 

 

Ten participants competed in the regional Finals for “Fine Jewellery making” in Jaipur for a chance to represent India in the World Skills show in UK. Like Pramanik many of the participants come from lower-income families and earn a pittance for working long hours in an industry, which is full of untrained workers. Pramanik earns about Rs 4,000 a month, enough to support himself and save a small sum for his family in West Bengal.

Dr Parag K Vyas, Chief jewellery expert, who has been training artisans in his Design Institute in Indore, points out an irony, “Most participants are from West Bengal. Even though they come and represent different regions but they are originally from West Bengal. There is a lot of talent in that State and not enough job avenues for jewellery skills.” Most artisans in this profession are girls because of the fine craftsmanship required in dealing with designing jewellery.

Dr Parag K Vyas, on the screening process for World Skills India:

Asrof Jamal at the Finals in Jaipur

Asrof Jamal at the Finals in Jaipur

Asrof Jamal is also no different from Pramanik. Pramanik and Jamal work in the same jewellery market district in Bangalore, though in different jewellery stores. Jamal, 16, moved to Bangalore leaving behind his parents in West Bengal’s Howrah district 3-4 years ago, in search of better livelihood. “I am paid Rs 8,000 a month for working long hours. I miss home and this competition will offer me the chance to do better for myself in this profession and support my family,” says Jamal, who is also among the shortlisted candidates for the World Skills UK in November. Ultimately two students will be selected after being groomed by Dr Vyas.

 

Dr Parak K Vyas: “People still prefer hand-made jewellery”

Fine jewellery making skills are an important area when it comes to competition standards on the world scale, says Dr Vyas. Every two years the World Skills competition is held, which tests a range of skills including Fine Jewellery Making. The next World Skills competition will be held in October 2017 in Abu Dhabi. Though India has an upper hand when it comes to the wider global skills set, there is still a lot that needs to be done to train artisans employed in the Indian jewellery industry.

World Skills competitions are important for India: Dr Parag Vyas 

External Links:

Watch : A short video on World Skills UK

Read: World Skills India

Post by: Debesh Banerjee
The writer is Senior Manager Arts, Digital, British Council India

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BBC Arts Hour: How tolerant is Indian Culture of new ideas?

Depending on how you look at it, India is either a deeply divided place where new ideas are constantly held back, or a land brimming with energy and new, diverse voices befitting the world’s biggest democracy.

A panel of artists and commentators came together at the British Council in New Delhi on 17 September, to talk about the boundaries of acceptability of India’s art, books and culture. Is India at a cultural crossroads and how tolerant is it of new ideas?

The BBC Arts Hour panellists at the recording session of The Arts Hour

The BBC Arts Hour panellists at the recording session of The Arts Hour

On the one hand are cases like the exile of legendary artist M. F. Husain, who was driven away after certain of his artworks were forbidden from being exhibited. Senior journalist and columnist Swapan Dasgupta highlighted the contradiction in the fact that painter Raja Ravi Varma was celebrated for his portraits of voluptuous women as goddesses, while Husain was vilified.

BBC arts hour

Senior journalist and Columnist Swapan Dasgupta (left) and NGMA Director, Rajeev Lochan

His image of the naked goddess Saraswati was seen as offensive towards Hindus and led not only to legal action, but also resulted in his home being attacked by right-wing activists.
At the same time, there is a proliferation of new and diverse voices, as writer and journalist Raghu Karnad pointed out. They are difficult to track since India comprises so many languages, he explained, but there is a new explosion of writing by the Dalits. He cited the example of a Kannada lesbian romance film that wholly embraces the idea of two women in a relationship.

Click Here: Listen to the recording of BBC, The Arts Hour:

Although there have been recent cases of conservative reaction to, for instance, the film PK, Karnad said that there has never been a shortage of people in India whose sensibilities have been offended. Such offence should not, therefore, be assumed to be a phenomenon of our times alone.

Artist Sonia Khurana and theatre activist Shilpi Marwaha expressed their desire for women to be liberated from the shackles of tradition. Khurana said that her depictions of naked women were rejected by Indian galleries only to be received well abroad. They were finally shown after that at Delhi’s National Gallery of Modern Art, on the insistence of fellow panellist, NGMA Director Rajeev Lochan.

BBC arts hour 2

The audience listening to The Arts Hour

Against the backdrop of the famous “Delhi rape case”, an incident involving the tragic rape and fatal assault on 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey, there is a heightened level of awareness about the treatment of women in society.

The incident, which sparked intense international coverage and mass protest in India, inevitably reared its head during the panel discussion. According to Shilpi Marwah the way people react to women has transformed as a result of the publicity around the case.

A sensational slam poet and rapper, Rene Sharanya Verma, lyrically captured the moment with her debut performance of the powerful piece Reclaim the Night, which was a call for women to be able to embrace the streets after dark.

She says her work aims to empower women and raise awareness of misogyny in India. The discussion ended on the subject of digital media’s capability to empower huge numbers of people. The proliferation of mobile phones is encouraging and enabling art to be consumed and shared more easily. On the flip side, this can mean more opinions are expressed which leaves art in India open to more criticism.

The jury is divided as to how open Indian culture is to new ideas. A live performance by the two-member electro-fusion band ‘Basanti aur Woh’, fusing Led Zeppelin rock with Sanskrit lyrics certainly left our live audience feeling optimistic about the chances for diverse, fresh ideas to flourish.

Post by: PRIYA KHANCHANDANI
The writer is the Head of Arts Programmes for the British Council in India

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Aisling Fahey: Long Night of LiteratureS

UK performance poet Aisling Fahey who is also the Young Poet Laureate for London, is in India for a session of readings as part of the Long Night of LiteratureS literary event this month. She will also be travelling to three cities: Chandigarh, Guwahati and Pune for readings. She shares how she was drawn into poetry in this blog:

  • Can you tell us about how you got into poetry

Having always loved reading and writing stories, when I got involved in a poetry project at school, the London Teenage Poetry Slam, at 13, there wasn’t any looking back. That vibrant introduction to poetry showed me the power carefully crafted words can have. They are a way to interrogate, understand and record. When you experience the impact poetry can have, and feel the atmosphere of a live event where somebody is holding the whole room with their words, you cannot help but become addicted to the art form. At 15 I joined Barbican Young Poets, a programme run by Jacob Sam-La Rose. This provided a regular space to learn about, read and write poetry, along with opportunities for publishing and performing. Still now, I use the community of writers established in various projects I’ve been a part of over the years, in order to push me, inspire me and keep me motivated.

Aisling Fahey

Aisling Fahey at a session from the Barbican Junior Poets in June this year ©Susana Sanroman

  • How did you become Young Poet Laureate of London? What has your role entailed?

There is a relatively lengthy application process for Young Poet Laureate for London. It involved initial applications, a long-listing day where you perform for a panel of esteemed judges, then a residential week for the shortlisted six filled with workshops, before a final interview. Last year, it was Lemn Sissay who announced the result on National Poetry Day in October. The role has entailed interaction with various communities and groups in London, from five to six year olds in my old primary school, to sixty year old women from Ireland, where my family is from. It has involved performances, events, workshops, panels, talks, and what has underpinned all of this is an engagement with poetry and people. I hope that I have successfully shown some of what poetry can do, and how it fits snugly into so many different environments.

 

Aisling Fahey © Leonie Morse

Aisling Fahey © Leonie Morse

  • What are you looking forward to about your trip to India with the British Council?

I’m looking forward to discovering, learning and immersing myself as much as I can in a way only travel allows. I am also interested to see how my work, with its influences and references, will be received by new audiences. How will the sharing of my work in such a different place transcend any cultural differences that may be present? The literature that I love most is that which may be very far from my scope of experience, but still manages to speak directly to me. It will be really interesting to see if my work manages to do this in any way.

Also, the Long Night of LiteratureS event taking place in Delhi on 25 September will be incredible. That event brings together artists from across Europe and India, I’m always excited to talk to artists from different places and learn from their practice and experience. Most of all I’m looking forward to letting all of the new people and experiences soak in, I’ll be collecting stories that I can bring back home to savour, and retell as winter settles in an attempt to conjure back some of the heat.

 

 

Extract from Cab Rides At Dawn

 

In the place where dawn breaks continuously,

I am relearning the properties of light.

I used to go hunting for stars on my aunt’s farm,

come back with them between my teeth

like the flesh of an exotic fruit.

We dont have these in the city, I’d say,

swallowing them until they settled in my belly,

before exploding, making me shine outward.

I confess more to strangers than to friends.

 

I am discussing Poetry and God in a cab
with a driver from Bulgaria.

If I recorded my conversations with cab drivers

I think I’d be closer to my dreams.

I always ask them where is home 

as they drive me to a place that is meant to be mine.

 

 

Extract from Foreign Bodies

When a stranger pronounces my name right

I want to cut our ears off,

dig for other sounds we share.

 

There are names I cannot pronounce.
Each time, my tongue becomes a guilty weight,
I score a tally on my thigh
of all the countries I have not been to.

We love what is foreign
because it reminds us of ourselves.

 

III.

My face is my parents’ homeland,

sometimes they look at it and cry

for all the things they’ve lost,

their lost things crawl under my skin,
look, there is the river we never did swim in,
I don’t know which one of them spots it,
the vein at my temple,
but by the time they turn around
the other one has long gone.

Entombed in my face is what they built together,
when they were in the business
of making love and lives
in foreign lands.

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World Voice Project: Master Trainer workshop in Delhi

The Master Trainer workshop held in August 2015 was a wonderful opportunity to re-connect with World Voice colleagues from our Himalayan partner states and welcoming back our dear WVP Artistic Director, Richard Frostick.

world voice delhi

Shubhangi Tewari, WVP trainer, conducting a session with participants

 

 

Having Richard amongst us, infuses us with loads of inspiration, new techniques as well as, ideas for the forthcoming WVP year. I re-call attending my first WVP workshop in March 2013. Watching Richard interact with school children and help them to find their singing voices was truly heart-warming. The positivity, love and ease with which he communicated with the students, has stayed with me and continues to inspire my own practice as a WVP trainer.

During the recent Master Trainer Workshop, I had an opportunity to share experiences from the World Voice Manchester residency program, which I had attended. Here I met WVP leaders and master trainers from across the world! We marvelled at the authenticity with which British Primary School children sang in languages from countries as diverse as Argentina, Chile, Brazil, the UK, Senegal, Ethiopia, Jordan, Palestine, Nepal and India at the residency finale concert in Manchester University.

world voice project Delhi

WVP workshop participants in New Delhi

It is the third year for WVP in India, and the state master trainers’ shared their incredible work with school children in Himachal, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Jammu, Delhi and the NCR. It was indeed wonderful to receive feedback from teachers that ever since they started singing in the classroom on a regular basis; the students were happier, smiled a lot more, were more energetic, alert, getting better at remembering facts or concepts and attended school more regularly!

On a personal note, singing is the most significant part of my life. I experience the happiness it provides on a daily basis. To be able to extend this joy to young people is the most valuable aspect of working with the World Voice Project.

Post by: Shubhangi Tewari, WVP Trainer 

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World Voice Project: Singing and drama in NDMC Navyug classroom

 

The third workshop for the New Delhi Municipal Corporation and Navyug teachers was held from 26 August – 28 August, 2015 at the NDMC Convention Centre, New Delhi. The workshop introduced the World Voice Project (W.V.P.) and the Drama in Classroom Project (D.C.P.) to a new batch of 30 teachers. In addition to being a top-up training for eight teachers who had attended previous WVP workshops (held on 1 October – 4 October, 2013 and 10 February – 12 February, 2015).

NDMC workshop

The NDMC workshop in progress

The workshop presented ‘music’ and ‘drama’ as additional tools to promote wider curriculum learning. The participants learnt new warm-ups, songs, drama/song teaching techniques, lesson-planning and ways of integrating WVP/ DCP with the curriculum. The discussions and interactive sessions were particularly interesting as participants (including, primary school subject teachers, music teachers, art teachers and special education teachers) raised thought-provoking questions that highlighted the relevance and effectiveness of an art integrated teaching pedagogy. While the session with 30 students from class five demonstrated ways of introducing WVP and DCP in classrooms and was appreciated very much.

School children at the NDMC workshop in New Delhi

School children at the NDMC workshop in New Delhi

It was heartening to hear the students sing Daw Hyfryd Fis (a WVP Welsh song) which was learnt in less than 10 minutes and curriculum linkages were established through it. The workshop concluded with the participants showing an eagerness to apply the newly acquired skills in their classrooms.

 

 

Voices from the Workshop:

Megh Malti: As an art teacher, WVP and DCP could be used to establish a friendly rapport with students and encourage them to think freely as well as, ‘creatively’..…. She felt she had learnt a lot during the  workshop and could use it to make her  subject (drawing) even more interesting!

Pooja: As a physical education teacher, WVP singing games could be used to engage more effectively with students. In sports or any other physical sport, quick reaction time….played a crucial role in determining the quality of the player and WVP warm-ups as well as, singing games could be used to facilitate this…. Besides, during her arrangement / substitution classes, she could use DCP to teach EVS and other subjects too! …..

Astha: ”Classes 6 – 10 were taught Senwa (song from Congo) in 2013 and they remembered it even in 2015! (earlier trained participant).”

Deepti Tyagi: ”She felt fusing arts with academics helped establish a good rapport with students. The entire class became joyful and meaningful.…….(earlier trained participant).”

Rajesh Singh Negi: ”‘Zaruri nahi hai ki aap apne bacchon ko tansen banaaein….bachoon ko kaansen banaein’…. and WVP helped in the endeavour ! [Translation : It is not necessary for us to make the students into Tansen (*a prominent Hindustani musician and singer), instead make them specialists in listening and relating better……. which could be achieved through WVP] (earlier trained participant).”

 

Post by: Shivaa Rawat                                                                                                                        

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Jocelyn Allen: Self portraits

 

The British Council India and ‪‎The Alkazi Foundation‬ have come together for a photo project titled ‪PHOTOUKINDIA – Origins that looks at works drawn from the shared history of both countries.

The exhibition of the curated entries will open as part of the PHOTOUKINDIA exhibition on October 14 at the Gallery in the British Council, in New Delhi.

Over the coming weeks, we will feature a new artist, their history with, and approach to photography. British photographer Jocelyn Allen looks closely at her work  in taking self-portraits.

Jocelyn Allen

Jocelyn Allen

I’ve always taken self-portraits since I got into photography, but never did a proper project as on my BA I tried to make my projects non-personal until the last project where I decided to make the work that I really wanted to make. I didn’t plan to use myself originally but it seemed to make sense as I would be always be available and I had been taking self-portraits because I felt inspired but no one was around/I didn’t want to bother people. I didn’t plan to make another self-portrait project but I found it to be therapeutic, especially in terms of dealing with how I felt about myself and my body. 

I am trying to find inspiration in anything and everything. I’m going through all of the books on my bookshelf and researching a lot online. Generally though, I just get inspired by going on Instagram and other platforms like Tumblr and Twitter, as well as exhibitions and talking to friends and seeing them doing well with their work. I also went on holiday last month so I was inspired by the new surroundings and the nature.

Jocelyn Allen (b. 1988, UK) has a BA in Photographic Art from the University of Wales, Newport (2010) and an MA in Photography from the London College of Communication (2014). Highlights of her career so far include representing the UK in a Biennial of Young Artists of Europe & The Mediterranean (2011), showing her work at Guernsey Photography Festival (2011), self-publishing a book (2013) and being selected for FreshFaced+WildEyed at The Photographers’ Gallery, London (2015).

Follow her Instagram feed @jocelynfreya

 

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Alan Knox: Shifting political landscapes and its impact

The British Council India and ‪‎The Alkazi Foundation‬ have come together for a photo project titled ‪PHOTOUKINDIA – Origins, to curate works drawn from the shared history of both countries. 

The exhibition of the curated entries will be held on October 14 at the British Council India in New Delhi.

We’re very excited to finally announce the participants for the first chapter of PHOTOUKINDIA. Over the coming weeks, we will feature a new artist, their history with, and approach to photography. In these two works, British photographer Alan Knox looks at the idea of the political landscape and the evolving personal space:

The Debatable Lands

Marshall Meadows Bay on the Anglo Scots border, Northumberland, UK © Alan Knox

“Having been born and raised in Lanarkshire outside the city of Glasgow, my early interest in photography as an art-form was shaped by attending weekend classes at the Glasgow School of Art. During this time, I was exposed to the electrifying transformation taking place within the Glasgow contemporary art scene during the 1990’s, inspiring my practice for years to come.

During the past year my work has explored documentary practices by questioning shifting political sovereignty and it’s effect on the natural landscape.  With The Debatable Land, I travelled the Anglo-Scots border with the intention of documenting the b-roads and dirt-paths that criss-cross the border, And presenting them as conduits between past and present.

My companion project, Schengland explores the role of internet imagery in documenting the transformation of border controls across the European project by appropriating Google Street View images from the eastern Schengen border and installing them on the Anglo-Scots border.”

Man in the Moon

Large format black and white negative held to the light of a full Moon © Alan Knox

In the past year my practice has moved from the political to the personal. For Man in the Moon, producing large format black and white negatives from the family archive, held to the sky so to be backlit with the full Moon’s reflection, the faces of my ancestors filter the motion of the lunar orbit, which is traced as I re-photograph the negative at regular intervals.

My practice thus seeks to reflect on the lost aura of the work of art caused by mechanical reproduction, as Margaret Iversen writes: “To experience the aura of the phenomenon means to invest it with the ability to look at us in return. It implies, then, an ethical attentiveness and receptivity to the other.” In my practice, one may become receptive to the loss of the other by investing the lunar satellite with the ability to gaze back at the viewer through the mediation of photography, tracing the timeline of my Grandfather’s life.

Follow his Instagram feed @alanknoxphotography

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Thereby hangs a tale

We never stop telling stories, do we, small and tall alike?

Once upon a time I went to Scotland. There, in a castle in the dark, misty highlands, actually a modest hotel in Edinburgh, I found my flesh creep as I walked down its sinister corridor. We’d had dinner with Jock McArthur only the previous night, and the next morning he’d been found with his throat slit. The chill finger of suspicion pointed at all of us. Oh, all right, there’s a wee bit a yarn-tellin’ here. We were part of a ‘murder weekend’, then still a new tourism lure. ‘Silly gimmick’ i’d thought to myself when i was invited to it, but we were all unwittingly drawn into the plot by the wicked witches, aka the professional players pretending to be guests like us.

Literature delegation in Edinburgh

Bachi Karkaria (centre) with the other delegates at Edinburgh. Image courtesy Momentum/Festivals Edinburgh

Once upon last week, i was once more in Edinburgh, again at the heart of storytelling as actors and artists, clowns, kings and queens of all sexes created the fairy-tale world of the Festival’s ‘Fringe’. Like all good stories, theirs made us laugh, cry — and think. A bunch of us litfest organisers had wound our way from Kolkata, Kuala Lumpur, Bogota, Bucharest, Budapest, Bali, Lahore and Mumbai to a gypsy caravan called Momentum Literature, hitched for four days to the International Book Festival.

Every night, we gathered in a baroque tent for Jura Unbound. ‘Jura’ was the sponsor, the fairy godmother needed by all real-life events. Professional storytellers ‘unbound’ the tales of Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm and recast them for the here and now, which has its own rags-to-riches stories — and certainly no dearth of ugly ducklings swanning around.

So, did the golden coaches turn into pumpkins during the day? No! We continued to be bewitched by the luminous passages read by authors from their new books. Skilful moderators drew out the writer’s own stories of wandering through dusty, musty archives, finding the Aladdin’s lamp of inspiration, and the magic kiss of publishers who don’t easily fit the description of ‘Prince Charming’.

Very grim and no fairy tale were the Amnesty International panels dedicated to writers and journalists killed for their courage. Not everyone lives happily ever after, but the story must be told.

Post written by: Bachi KarkariaCourtesy: The Times of India.

(The writer was part of the Momentum Edinburgh Festivals International Delegate Programme, delivered by the British Council in partnership with Festivals Edinburgh and Creative Scotland in August, and participated in the Edinburgh International Book Festival and other events.)

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