Shutterbugs assemble

With her ‘box of books’, photojournalist turned editor Anshika Varma will be in the city this week.

Published: 14th June 2022 09:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th June 2022 09:54 AM   |  A+A-

Photojournalist  Anshika Varma. ( File Photo)

Photojournalist Anshika Varma. ( File Photo)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Meet Anshika Varma, a photography enthusiast who is taking her love for photography to the next level. A photojournalist turned editor, curator and publisher, Varma founded Offset Projects, an artist-led initiative in New Delhi. She’s bringing her box of books, Offset Pitara to Bangalore International Centre, Domlur, from June 17 to 24. The event will also include workshops, talks, and the launch of her first book. Offset Pitara is where Varma carries her steel trunks full of books on photography to events and shares her collection with bibliophiles to read and explore.

The box travels with Varma across several events and venues. Started in 2018, Offset Projects and Pitara are initiatives that aim to connect an individual and their environment through photography. During the pandemic, they would have virtual meet-ups on a weekly basis featuring artistes from South Asia to discuss what photography means to them.

“This led us to bring out a reconstructed book called Guftgu that features 10 practitioners from India, Nepal and Pakistan, each with a chapter of their own,” she explains. The chapters in the book cover political, emotional, psychological and historical topics through the lens of photography. For example, the historian and curator from Nepal, Diwas Raja KC, quotes photography as data to assimilate histories together. Cheryl Mukherji, a diaspora artist, talks about ancestry and inheritance as she looks through the archives of her mother’s images along with powerful texts she has written. An amalgamation of her curiosity to study cultural and social evolution with storytelling, Varma’s work highlights the emotional connection between an individual and their surroundings.

“I always had access to books when I travelled for work. And as a bibliophile, I began exploring photography and education. I learned about the possibilities of the medium,” she says. Varma did not receive formal education in photography though. She says, “There are very few institutions in my region that teach you what it means to take photography as a language. So, a lot of my training actually happened on the field and I learnt on the go,” says the founder of Offset Projects. She began carrying her books on photography to workshops, schools and art therapy programmes and realised that people loved the idea of interpreting texts by themselves.

“I witnessed a strange feeling of ownership that the readers felt when they held the book. With time, I started to explore the capacity of a book as a language. I set out with the Pitara, a steel trunk with all my books to book festivals, parks and schools, and watched people sit with photography for hours. They read about the journeys of photographers, and that proved to be a conduit that established a relationship between the photographer and the reader,” Varma says.


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