CHENNAI: It’s not often that you spot expats in dresses and lungi-clad gents standing side-by-side looking at a photograph. And to its credit, ‘Urban Water’, the opening exhibit of the Chennai Photo Biennale on Friday, ensured that the showcase was for everybody.
Right from the choice of venue — a rather rundown Light House MRTS station, to the fact that there was a Tamil translator present for the opening remarks, made for an inclusive viewing experience.
Co-organised by the Goethe-Institut Chennai and Travelling Lens, the city’s first photography festival is a massive effort that will run across 19 venues — so much so that there’s even an official map that visitors are given when they walk in. Varun Gupta of the Travelling Lens said, “We chose this venue because it has a strong connect to the local community and accessible venues have been an important part of our planning.”
Other public venues on the list include Nageshwara Rao Park, Mylapore and Thiruvanmiyur MRTS station. As one can imagine, permissions from public bodies in-charge took a long time and this festival has been in the making “for over eight months”, informed Varun.
All their efforts seem to have been worth it with many staying behind to gaze at the walls, long after the opening buzz died down. “This exhibition will be a permanent one. Southern Railways authorities had requested us to help beautify these spaces. So these photographs will remain where they are now — for the sake of commuters who can enjoy them before they jump on or get off their train,” says Helmut Schippert, director of the Goethe-Institut.
The Chennai Photo Biennale features 164 photographers from around the globe. The festival goes on till March 13.
The Biennale will also feature a photo treasure hunt titled ‘Namma Chennai’ for photographers using cameras and mobiles. Register on www.photoconcierge.com.
Beyond the Frame
Apart from the exhibitions, you can also look forward to photo walks, artist talks and films on photography Talk by award-winning photojournalist Walter Astrada, who is currently on a world trip on his Royal Enfield taking photographs Feb 27 | Goethe- Institut | 12pm-1 pm British Blueprints, a photo walk by Storytrails March 5-12 | Lighthouse to War Memorial | 5.30 am A workshop on ‘Light Painting’ by Jeswin RebelloMarch 5 | Shanthi Colony, Anna Nagar | 10am to 4 m