“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”
— Alfred Stieglitz
Land and Lens, the ongoing photography show at Venkatappa Art Gallery is a show with a difference. What you get to see is imagery captured by common folk from villages, each one carrying along with them, stories of joy, despair and hope. The intention of the group Vanashree, from the onset was to give a peek to rural women and youth into professional photography and to document tales in a wonderful collective. Through the use of cameras, villagers not only had a field day, but were encouraged to use the lens to communicate to the world, issues gripping them, situations that they face. Most of these issues, for people like us who stay in majestic cities, go unnoticed. The concept itself must receive a lot of plaudits as nothing much has been heard or said about such an initiative. One of the core motives, which the group succeeded in, is encouraging village folk to fearlessly reveal their land, lives, discomforts and inherent creativity. The art show consisting of 64 photographs by 19 photographers and has been exceptionally curated by Samuha Suresh. This vibrant and enigmatic show of photographs documents a buoyantly intense process. Youth and women agriculturists, none of whom had beforehand been trained in the use of a camera, were urged to valiantly explore sessions of independently directed photography. With unrealised talent coming to the fore, every photograph wasn’t only a picture for students but an experience to be remembered. Through this show, the organisation aims to give the photographers a special space. One where their innovative creative expressions can open viewer’s eyes to places and landscapes which have been rarely explored. Soil and skies, fields and trees, crops and home, and unusual quaint spaces that become streets. Agriculture and rural land, expansive and lovely, yet regularly stressed. With its numerous hardships and delights, the students share uncovering peeks into the day to day rhythm of towns in India.
More than just an accumulation of photographs, Land and Lens highlights components of traditional village art alongside contemporary media, weaving together a clear narrative of a collective rural experience and involvement in the Chamarajanagar and Sirsi districts. One of the students, Shyamala Hegde says, “I could not have imagined I would hold a camera and take photographs. The same old path I walked before have brought up new vistas, and stirred a different curiosity in me. This is such a unique, happy experience.” The opening weekend featured some interactive activities in the form of food stalls by Vanashree with Forest Garden and field produce. Vasavi also did a commendable job in getting the act together in forming such a group. The show was on till April 13.
The writer is an art expert and curator....