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Houston’s FotoFest Focuses on India

The FotoFest 2018 Biennial INDIA/Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art exhibition is on view through April 22,  2018 in Houston, Texas. This year the exhibition features the contemporary artwork of 47 living artists from India and the global Indian Diaspora. It is among the largest exhibitions of contemporary Indian art ever presented in the United States.

In an essay included in the exhibition’s accompanying book, lead curator Sunil Gupta writes that one of the key questions the show asks is: “How do contemporary photographers and artists of Indian origin imagine the diverse and complicated subjectivities of Indian-ness regardless of where they live?”

Sohrab Hura, a current nominee of Magnum Photos based in India, presents photos from a 2016 series called The Levee. The images were made in response to pictures that his father took on his phone while traveling the Mississippi River for his work as a sailor of commercial ships. Knowing that his son was planning to travel to the same area, the phone pictures offered a glimpse of the area. Although Hura’s father never got off the ship, he worried about his son traveling to the American South, a place he felt was not safe. “He’s been one of the many people in India (to be honest, most people outside of the U.S.),” writes Hura in the text alongside the photographs, “who have this impression of a gun-toting America, since a lot of the news one hears is of violence, and the impression that many have is not so nuanced.”

With this in mind, communicating an “element of tenderness” through his photographs became important to Hura. “America,” he states, “was more complex than I imagined…my fleeting impressions were one of complicated human relationships.”

Hura says that his photographic process was more simple (in a good way) in the U.S. than in India where artists “need to peel off and then re-add as many layers as possible, as that is the only spectrum that we feel justified in looking through.”

The Levee takes the viewer through Hura’s impression of southern landscapes considered through the lens of his complicated relationship, characterized by much distance, with his father.

A full list of Biennial artists may be found on the FotoFest website. The 47 artists included in NDIA/Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art are making work about many prescient issues like new technologies and development, the environment, human settlement, migration, integration, economics, caste and class, gender and sexuality, conflict, racism and religion.

INDIA/Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art
FotoFest 2018 Biennial
Houston, Texas
Through April 22, 2018

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