Ideas of identity   

Photography is a prolific tool of documentation.

Published: 02nd October 2021 06:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd October 2021 06:54 AM   |  A+A-

Notions of Freedom

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Photography is a prolific tool of documentation. You can capture several memories and details within a frame. But could we explore a subject — particularly, a body — beyond what the photographer would like to show us? “A document is a lost memory; frozen in time. Most of the time, it is one person’s interpretation and the image becomes almost the person looking at it. I was more interested in how the image cannot be in the control of the person looking but the one documented. It reverses the whole dialogue,” says Sanchayan Ghosh, artist and educator, while talking about his work and his upcoming shadow casting workshop, Presence as Absence. The project has been invited by the Chennai Photo Biennale curatorial team and will be hosted by Goethe-Institut Chennai. 

The seven-day workshop will be conducted in two parts. The first part consists theatre exercises that will let individual participants explore their cultural and social memory in reference to sound, body and gesture. “The workshop is basically about exploring our own memories of a body; learning and sharing. That’s why you need a group; how we see each other and share our individual memories and that leads to a collective reflection of individual memories,” he explains.

The second part of the workshop will work with light using the method of shadow casting on silk screens. “Generally, you take an image, expose it, erase the negative part and get a printout. What I found interesting is that if we change different aspects of exposure (photosensitive pigment, the kind of light, duration), the exposure itself becomes a physical phenomenon. In shadow casting, if I move too much, the image is blurred. It depends on my body. It is no longer an image of a body but the absence of it. It is poetic. I was intervening in the whole idea that study is not recording but transient position,” he adds. So, the workshop will be looking at the human body beyond the details — through the absence of any — captured in a photograph and encouraging the participants to interrogate their idea of body, representation, memory and identity.

“While the workshop is practise-based, it is grounded in several theoretical questions,” says Bhooma Padmanabhan, co-curator for Chennai Photo Biennale 3. CPB is inviting performers, artists and practitioners from various creative disciplines to attend the workshop and indulge in interrogating study. “Though it is a printing process, the participants do not have to be photographers or have any such expertise. We are looking for people who are interested in these questions; who wish to interrogate and are keen on rethinking identity and the body,” she adds. If you wish to attend the workshop, send in a short bio of your work in under 200 words (in Tamil or English) through the link given below. This is only applicable to people over the age of 18. The workshop will be documented as a film and showcased at the upcoming Biennale called Maps of Disquiet.  

Deadline to apply: October 5, 2021. Workshop date: October 18 to 24, 2021. To apply, visit:


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