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PhotoUKIndia: The question of identity and belonging

Pictures in the PhotoUKIndia exhibition on Origins examine the idea of home through a focus on the themes of community, gender, religion and ethnicity.

art and culture Updated: Oct 24, 2015 13:16 IST
Namita Kohli

What is home?... Is home a geographical space, a historical space, an emotional, sensory space?’ As I enter the gallery at the British Council for the ongoing PhotoUKIndia exhibition entitled Origins, I am reminded of these lines from an essay on the different meanings of ‘home’ for immigrants and migrants, authored by the post-colonial feminist scholar, Chandra Talpade Mohanty.

The immediate ‘provocation’ to go to Mohanty is Arpita Shah’s portrait of the Azad family, part of the South Asian diaspora in the UK, that you see as soon as you enter the gallery. As one walks across the space, the lines resonate with other works too, as they explore similar themes of belonging, identity and community — Bharat Choudhary’s ‘The Silence of Others’ on the lived experience of young Muslims in the UK, works of personal histories such as that of photographer Sarah Amy Fishlock, who captures her maternal grandparents’ story of migration from Italy to Scotland, and Karan Kapoor’s black and white portraits of Kolkata’s Anglo-Indians. One gets a glimpse of other communities too — Laura Pannack’s work documenting the lives of the British naturists, for instance, where even the photographer becomes a part of the community to closely observe her subjects.

From community, the focus shifts to the self in neighbouring exhibits — Jocelyn Allen’s images have her “hiding” herself in different poses. The exhibition’s curator Rahaab Allana says the works include themes of community life, gender, religion, and ethnicities. The result is a layered narrative of what “origins” means to each. In an ever shrinking globalised world, where issues of identity, a sense of belonging, and the idea of ‘home’ is constantly shifting, these “layers” are worth unravelling.

When: Until January 3, 2016
Where: British Council, 17, Kasturba Gandhi Marg
The exhibition is being done in association with The Alkazi Foundation. Entry is free