At Large  April 9, 2018  Megan D Robinson

Indian Photography Showcased at Houston’s FotoFest Biennial

Courtesy of the Artist

Nandini Valli Muthiah, "Asleep," from the series "Visitor," 2010

The FotoFest Biennial, an international platform for photographic and new media art, is known for discovering and presenting hot new talent from around the world. The Biennial is a citywide production, with Houston's leading art museums, art galleries, non-profit art spaces, universities and civic spaces all involved. This year’s festival theme is INDIA, with attendees coming from 34 countries, and artists from India and the global Indian diaspora representing the identities of their homeland.

Work by 47 artists explores gender and sexuality, land rights conflict, the environment, human settlement and migration, and caste and class divisions. The brilliant photography ranges from striking portraits to haunting urban scenes, gaudy celebrations, erotically charged moments, and poetic stillnesses. “The artists, all of Indian origin, are imagining and responding to what India means today in its myriad complexities, given its ancient culture and more recent emancipation from British colonialism,” says Biennial Lead Curator Sunil Gupta. “It is very exciting for FotoFest to be working with this remarkable range of artists,” adds Steven Evans, FotoFest Executive Director and Biennial Co-Curator. FotoFest 2018 is one of the largest exhibitions of contemporary photography by artists of Indian origin in the United States to date.

Prince Varughese Thomas, "Wives," 1993
Courtesy of the Artist and Hooks-Epstein Galleries, Houston

Prince Varughese Thomas, "Wives," 1993, From the series "InterSect"

Vidisha Saini, "Mr. Shekhar‘s House," From the series "You Like Mr. Shekhar"
Courtesy of the Artist

Vidisha Saini, "Mr. Shekhar‘s House," From the series "You Like Mr. Shekhar"

Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, "War Paint," 2001, From the series "An Indian from India," 2001–2007
Courtesy of the Artist and sepiaEYE Gallery, New York. Original photography courtesy of the Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library, Denver, Colorado. “Black Bear Jr. Arapahoe” by F. A. Rinehart

Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, "War Paint," 2001, From the series "An Indian from India," 2001–2007

Pablo Bartholomew, "Gujarati Woman in a Saree Walks Past Red Brick Homes in her Neighborhood, Leicester, UK," 2011
Courtesy of the Artist

Pablo Bartholomew, "Gujarati Woman in a Saree Walks Past Red Brick Homes in her Neighborhood, Leicester, UK," 2011, From the series "The Indian Emigrés," 1987-2015

Shivani Gupta, "Tso moriri – Sandalwood against a lake lit with sunbeams through the rain. Wood on rainbowed surface of water, charm for a second life."
Courtesy of the Artist

Shivani Gupta, "Tso moriri – Sandalwood against a lake lit with sunbeams through the rain. Wood on rainbowed surface of water, charm for a second life." From the series "Thread Whispers, Chapter 1 of Rock, Apricot and Mountaintop," 2014

The INDIA exhibition is spread among four venues west of downtown Houston, and in the Museum District: Silver Street Studios, Winter Street Studios, The Silos at Sawyer Yards, and the Asia Society Texas Center. Parallel to the exhibition, FotoFest staged the popular Meeting Place Portfolio Review for Artists. This 12-day event allowed over 450 artists to review their portfolios with 150 top curators, editors, publishers, gallery owners, and collectors. Spring Street Studios hosts FotoFest’s The Discoveries of the Meeting Place, a related exhibition, displaying particularly compelling work by ten artists selected from 2016’s Meeting Place.

Courtesy of the Artist

Vicky Roy, "Ravi, Seven Years Old, Begging for a Living near Indian Institute of Technology Flyover, New Delhi," from the series "Street Dreams," 2005-2008

In addition to the exhibitions, the FotoFest 2018 Biennial began with a two-day INDIA Symposium with artist talks and tours; upcoming activities include a film program, presented with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, family-friendly activities, and culinary adventures. A hardcover book, published by FotoFest and Schilt Publishing, Amsterdam, containing artwork and essays, commemorates the 2018 INDIA Fotofest.

For more information, visit www.fotofest2018.art

About the Author

Megan D Robinson

Megan D Robinson writes for Art & Object and the Iowa Source.