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Binding together many perspectives of travel photography, the Pink City is all set to launch yet another festival

_ Gideon Mendel. Photo courtesy Travel Photo Jaipur

A couple stands straight, their resolute faces appearing expressionless until you realise their stillness mirrors what lies all around them—the residual waters of a devastating flood. Cut to a different kind of mirror image: one of a stately dog standing next to its proud owner, both endearingly statuesque. The first is an image from South African/UK-based photographer Gideon Mendel’s series Drowning World, and the second belongs to Indian photographer Siya Singh Akoi’s The Dog Show Project. And starting February 5, both will be part of 14 similarly striking series on display in Jaipur with one common theme: travel.

The first edition of Travel Photo Jaipur 2016—an international outdoor photography festival that will be held each February in the Pink City—intends to tie together different narratives from around the globe. Akoi and Mendel will share space with other big names in the industry including French artist Laurent Chehere, best known for his work with Nike, and British documentary photographer Anna Fox.
In association with the Rajasthan government’s tourism department, the photos will be displayed in iconic landmarks across the city, including the Hawa Mahal and Albert Hall Museum. The organisers hope it will appeal to lovers of photography in much the same way that the recent Jaipur Literature Festival resonates with literary buffs. The festival will also have talks, screenings and panel discussions, including one by acclaimed photo curator, Yumi Goto.

Beyond the ordinary
Put together by international curators, the festival aims to go deeper than the generic images of landscapes that immediately come to mind. Nikhil Padgaonkar, producer, hopes it will become a “regular platform for showcasing cutting-edge contemporary photography as well as a forum for discussion.”

It also allows Jaipur’s own residents—who have been photographed countless times by visitors—a chance to reverse the gaze. “It offers the possibility of engaging with photography not as the object of the camera, but as viewers,” he adds. There are also other subtle themes at work here. “I believe that irony, fantasy and humour are recurring elements in many of the series on display,” he tells us. On a larger level, Mexican photographer Eunice Adorno feels the festival symbolises a global conversation of sorts. “I think that contact with different cultures through the image is very important to understand and recognise ourselves in one another and have a dialogue together,” she notes.
With such diverse ways of thinking, there is something for everyone, from professionals and amateurs to those who simply want to soak in the experience.
February 5 – 14. Details: travelphotojaipur.com

—Shefali Rao

The writer works with a digital fundraising agency for nonprofits

Interactive spaces
The Special Interventions section will offer visitors the chance to interact with the medium in different ways and “discover how photography can be meaningful and fun”. It will have a travelling photo studio by designer-photographer Aradhana Seth. So stop by the Hawa Mahal and have your photo taken against a special Rajasthani backdrop. An exhibition by photographer Akshay Mahajan will see you exploring
postcards in a digital era.

Flight: From Rs.5,399 onwards (with a stopover in Ahmedabad)

Where to stay: Check into a cottage at Chokhi Dhani Resort (Rs.19,799 for 2N3D, 0141 516 6000)

What to buy: Stop by Gem Palace (0141 2374175) or Amrapali for diamond jewellery (0141 5191100)

On the list:
Attend Princess Diya Kumari’s party on February 6, at the City Palace. By invite only.

Snapshots

Catherine Balet:

In her exhibition, Looking for the Masters in Ricardo’s Golden Shoes, the French painter-photographer revisits the masters of photography with a charismatic 74-year-old male model, Ricardo Martinez Paz and questions “the evolution of photography and how its nature is being challenged due to the historic disruption created by digital photography.”

Gideon Mendel:

His work will definitely strike a chord—it puts a face to critical global issues. The uniformity of his still subjects, set against devastating backdrops, leads to an aesthetic that is “kind of arresting and accusatory. They almost seem to be asking, what is our role in this?” says Mendel, adding, “Through the floods, you get the sense that despite different circumstances, economic backgrounds and cultures, there’s still a shared despondency.”

Nishant Shukla:

He has photographed people on Indian trains and hopes his work will fulfil its own role in stretching a moment in time. “The craft involved in picking the material to be printed on and deciding the placement is all a celebration of life: memorialising a moment in time taken out of life and placed back in the world. I suppose the approach can be felt in the work and pushes up against the fast flowing stream of phones—digital content that we tend to over consume and get drunk on.”

Siya Singh Akoi:

Her favourite shot from the series is of Ratty Jhaveri from Mumbai. “She saw how all the other owners were standing in a very proprietary way with their dogs and sweetly asked me if she could sit on the ground to be photographed, to which I said sure”, as it changes the way one views the images, Akoi says.

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