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Curators Arko Datto, Bhooma Padmanabhan, Boaz Levin, Kerstin Meincke

Maps of Disquiet, Chennai Photo Biennale releases first list of artists

The Chennai Photo Biennale Foundation has released the curatorial concept, first list of artists, and collaborative projects ahead of the opening of the third edition of the Chennai Photo Biennale (CPB). Originally scheduled to open in December 2020, the CPB has been postponed to December 2021 due to the Covid pandemic. Titled ‘Maps of Disquiet’, the new edition of CPB will, according to the curators, “reflect on the exigencies of our times: resisting majoritarian impositions, ecological collapse, and technological dystopias by reclaiming pluralities of thought, voices, and art, and building new networks of solidarity and care”.

Launched with its first edition in 2016, the CPB, in the last four years, has placed itself in a unique position in the south Indian photography scene. Indian Photography Festival, an annual event in Hyderabad that started in 2015 is the only other major event focusing purely on photography. Over the years, the founders of CPB have been striving to make this ‘a grand festival of photography’. As per the official release from the CPB Foundation, the curatorial team – Arko Datto (Kolkata), Bhooma Padmanabhan (Chennai), Boaz Levin (Berlin), and Kerstin Meincke (Essen) – is facing the challenge of a global pandemic while trying to make the event more inclusive. The first list of artists includes 21 Indian and International photographers such as Andreas Langfeld, Gauri Gill, Lisa Rave, Senthil Kumaran, and Yuvan Aves.

Past editions of the CPB have not been without any controversies. The founders had faced criticism for giving more importance to commercial aspects over artistic ethos. In the 2018 edition of the event, the insensitive approach of organizers in setting up an iPhone photography segment had attracted flak.

Nevertheless, the CPB founders have reiterated their vision “to create accessible forums to collectively view, think, introspect, dialogue, and act on contemporary realities”. As the entire world is still grappling to come out of the uncertainty created by the pandemic, photography enthusiasts will have to wait one full year to experience the next edition of the promising photography event of south India.