A photo festival that goes beyond the art gallery

  • Abha Goradia, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 16, 2015 17:11 IST

Mention a photography exhibition, and you tend to visualise neatly arranged photographs displayed in art galleries or museums. But creative professionals Nicola Antaki, Elise Foster Vander Elst and Matthieu Foss are all set to change it. Antaki specialises in architecture and planning; Elise Elst is an art historian and Foss owns an art gallery in Ballard Estate, but they share the passion to take art to the masses. Their brainchild, Focus Photography Festival, boasts of over 30 exhibitions, outdoor shows, book launches, talks, and more across Mumbai.

The public events will be held across a host of venues such as cafés, malls, streets as well as retail stores. Speaking about the project, Foss says, "So many images are clicked and shared around us. But there is little reflection behind those pictures. The great thing about this festival is that the images are curated. That makes a lot of difference."

The theme of the festival is Crossover. Explaining the theme, Foss shares, "We realised we could explore many areas under the umbrella of 'crossover' such as migration, religion, gender, fashion, and so on."

Fairer People = Beautiful People = Powerful People


Artist Arpan Mukherjee explores the relationship between fairness of skin and preferential treatment. (Photo: Focus Photography Festival)

To explore the relationship between fairness of skin, and preferential treatment in their family and broader society, artist Arpan Mukherjee invited a group of young adults whose skin is dark in colour. He has used the wet plate collodion process, a photographic method that was used by the colonial Indians in the 19th century. Mukherjee will also conduct alternative photography and dark room workshops during the festival.

Venue: The Art Entrance Gallery, Kala Ghoda I Was Once Alive by Shahid Datawala


Shahid Datawala's photographs (Photo: Gallery 7 and Focus Photography Festival)

Rusted cars form the subject of artist Shahid Datawala's photographs, through which he seeks to explore debates on a range of topics such as machine, nature, culture, change and habit. Datawala started shooting these automobiles over a decade ago. According to the artist, the silently parked cars are complex portraits of journeys and hunts.

Venue: Gallery 7, Kala Ghoda Vagabond Souls


Celebrity portraits by Stephanie Cornfield (Photo: Stephanie Cornfield)

French-American photographer Stephanie Cornfield's show features a range of celebrity portraits. From David Lynch and Colin Firth to Anand Gandhi and Anushka Sharma, Cornfield's set is an intimate project in portrait photography.

Venue: Percept Art, Lower Parel Neither Natural Nor Necessary, selections from III Form and Void Full


A solo exhibition by Canadian fine-art photographer, Laura Letinsky (Photo: Focus Photography Festival)

This solo exhibition by Canadian fine-art photographer, Laura Letinsky, will depict the illusion of perfection in mundane everyday objects such as half-eaten cakes, tablecloth stained after a raucous meal, dirty spoons, empty cantaloupe rinds, half-eaten lollipops and uneven slices of bread.

Venue: The Muse, Rhythm House, Kala Ghoda

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