Photo exhibition aims to sensitise against racism

New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) Intimate moments in the lives of the African community living in India are all set to be showcased at an upcoming photography here to sensitise the public against racial bias and discrimination.

Indian and African artists will deal with issues of racial discrimination and cultural identity in the “Coriolis Effect: Migration and Memory” show at Khoj Studios from September 29 to October 4.

The exhibition is the culmination of a month-long residency that seeks to rekindle the social, economic and cultural relationship which exists between India and Africa.

“We have been deeply contemplating migration. Globally, we have borne witness to the forced displacement of thousands of people from their homelands and locally we have first-hand experienced the trauma of re-location,” said Khoj Studios curator Sitara Chowfla.

“We are also extremely interested in the formation of memory due to this migration – both individual and collective. We have invited artists to look back at the past and comprehend the present. What happens to your identity when you lose your place of belonging? What are memories of home and place that you carry with you,” she questioned.

The participating artists are Mahesh Shantaram, Andrew Ananda Voogel, Chibuike Uzoma, Joao Orecchia, Liza Grobler, Malini Kochupillai and Swati Janu. The critic-in-residence is Persis Taraporevala.

An independent documentary maker, Mahesh Shantaram, 39, is showing a collection of 10 photographs titled “Looking at You Looking at Me: The African Portraits”.

“It’s as if they don’t accept us as human beings … is what I keep hearing amidst all the heart rending stories,” Shantaram said.

Indo-Caribbean artist Andrew Ananda Voogel centres his work around the indentured labour trade from India to the Caribbean.

After the gradual abolition of the African slave trade, the search for cheap labour had spread across India, from where many men and women, including Voogel’s ancestors, were separated from their families and forcibly herded into ships leaving for Guyana and other colonies.

Unable to return, these workers eventually forged hybrid communities in their new homes. Memories of their violent departure and exile form an important part of Voogel’s work.

“I have worked on a text and textile based project where pieces of different textiles will be printed with phrases that highlight issues of discrimination. I got these phrases from various African people that I have spoken to and also from newspaper reports, and from my own personal history of multi-generational trauma,” Voogel said.

Nigerian artist Chibuike Uzoma has tried to look beyond a literal interpretation of the subject.

In 2014, he left Africa for the first time to take up a residency opportunity in Vienna. This led him to kick-start a multi-media project titled “West to the Horn is the Heart” which incorporated sound, stamps and images in a bid to understand and accept where he was.

He is also exhibiting six photographs taken on the streets of Old Delhi that showcase him walking around like a tourist.

“I don’t feel so lost in India because of the similarities between our two nations,” he said.

The multi-media project is intended to assert his condition of mixed and intertwined thought, hope, choice, expectation, anxiety, joy and shame.



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