As part of the Chennai Photo Biennale, AlterVision explores identity and privacy through the work of four photographers.
At 27, you might think he is quite young to be the curator of an exhibition that brings together the talents of four photographers, but Harsha Biswajit says it’s been a challenge that he was quite up to tackling. After all, he’s a digital artist working in Brooklyn, New York, and his pedigree—as the son of cartoonist Biswajit Balasubramanian and gallerist Shalini Biswajit—is impeccable. Harsha has curated AlterVision—as part of the Chennai Photo Biennale—which will explore the nature of images and how we experience reality through them. “All the four artistes (Harsha is one of them) tackle the same idea, but focussing on issues like privacy and identity,” he begins, elaborating, “We live in a world where we are flooded with visual data and information. So the question is, how do you take all that noise and make sense of everything that is thrown at you?”
Harsha’s own body of work—around 35 image—follows a documentary style. In I Once Took a Walk Outside, he tries to highlight that a photograph is not a true representation of reality. “Reality is not one-dimentional. You might see a dog on the street, but as you look at it, you might also think of your friend’s dog. So there is a meta-reality in your mind. I try to insert this as little psychedelic moments in my pictures,” says the graduate of NYC’s School of Visual, who turned his back on his economics degree as he felt disillusioned with the politics of it all. Even as he admits that he is excited about how people will respond to the show, he says he is working on something similar back in the US, where he will “expand the dialogue beyond just photography and bring in artists working with other mediums”.
Maximus Clarke: He creates visual experiences that explores the tension between concealment and exposure in a surveillance-driven society. As part of his work, Per Speculum in Ænigmate, the New Yorker asked people to send him encrypted messages that he converted into QR codes and overlaid with stereoscopic portraits. “It is not just a photographic project, but a dialogue. His work, which must be viewed with anaglyph 3D glasses also plays with the idea that not everything is as they seem,” explains Harsha.
Rachel Rampleman: Also from NYC, she works with video art and, in Bodybuilder Studies, she explores what it is to be a woman and push the boundaries of how you are supposed to look. “She has explored identity in a very in-your-face way. This is a technique that cuts through our desensitised vision and makes us step back and question reality,” shares Harsha, adding two experimental video installations will take people deeper into her work.
Ronny Sen: The Kolkata-based photographer’s work, Khmer Din, evolved out of a trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia, where he clicked people living on the fringe of society—from beggars to prostitutes. “His work—featuring people who don’t want to be photographed—is a stark juxtaposition to Rachel’s work, where people do everything possible to get noticed.”
At Forum Art Gallery, till March 10. Details: 42115596
—Surya Praphulla Kumar