Five emerging photographers present different living traditions

Ankit Agrawal_1 Ankit Agrawal_2 Ankit Agrawal_3 Ankit Agrawal_4 Ankit Agrawal_5 Bharat Tiwari_1 Bharat Tiwari_2 Bharat Tiwari_3 Bharat Tiwari_4 Mrigank_Kulshrestha_1 Mrigank_Kulshrestha_2 Mrigank_Kulshrestha_3 Mrigank_Kulshrestha_4 Taha Ahmad_1 Taha Ahmad_2 Taha Ahmad_3 Taha Ahmad_4 Vikas Gupta_1 Vikas Gupta_2 Vikas Gupta_3 Vikas Gupta_4‘Framing the Living Traditions’ marks the 5th year of the launch of the Neel Dongre Grants, as India Photo Archive Foundation continues to focus its gaze on the emerging talent and supports them by providing a platform by showcasing and mentoring documentary photographic projects. The Neel Dongre Grants for Excellence in Photography were launched in the year 2012 and are aimed at creating a visual platform, where emerging photographers get an opportunity to show-case their work to a relevant audience, receive funds to support their projects for the growth of their passion.

This year five emerging photographers Ankit Agrawal, Bharat Tiwari, Mrigank Kulshreshtha, Taha Ahmad, Vikas Gupta were chosen and empowered to find and appreciate craftsmen working with their hands and producing exquisite and unique works.

“The grant is driven by the idea of supporting young photographers interested in the genre of Documentary. It’s a celebration of the communicative nature of this medium and a tool for creating visual narratives. A DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER HAS A HUGE responsible ROLE IN THE SOCIETY; I firmly believe they create histories by documenting the traditions and the constantly evolving societies and their work has a great place in the archives being a witness to the process of change. In an age where new inventions and new technologies of mass production are being announced every minute, it is essential to document the great traditions and craft of the past for posterity”, says Aditya Arya.

It is said that civilizations are remembered by their arts, more than anything else. It is then therefore essential to document these arts and crafts in the forms they exist today for future generations to remember and appreciate.

The photographs in this exhibition bear witness to the skills, some of which are fading away or are being rendered obscure for various reasons. The crafts and traditions documented by the five photographers traverse various parts of the country, and various kinds of skills that require the dexterity of hands and sight and a fair amount of patience and commitment to the art form.

According to Asha Rani Mathur, “Textiles remain perhaps the most major of the great Indian crafts tradition. But, as in other crafts areas, what was once intrinsic to our living has been overtaken by industrial manufacture, synthetic materials and just plain obsolescence. Skill sets nourished by generations of teaching and absorption are fading away for lack of practice: are we then in an age of vanishing crafts?”

For the Jury, Parthav Shah a renowned Photographer, Film maker and Graphic Designer
“Inputs and interventions from artists, designers, and crafts cooperatives have helped craftsmen reinvent some crafts for the new generation but there are many of these that have disappeared and some are on the verge of extinction. Many scholars with the help of organizations such as National Institute of Design, Indian Institute of Crafts and Design, Crafts Council of India, Dastakar etc. have done seminal work in documenting and reviving of crafts. We still need to do more in a vast country such as India.”

“Artistically we may mourn the loss of certain materials, techniques and traditions. But pragmatically we have to remember that all craft must perhaps reshape itself to what is current to retain a dynamic and sustaining power. How to adapt these skills while maintaining a core vocabulary – is this where the future lies?” adds Asha.

About Neel Dongre Awards/Grants in Excellence in Photography

With the coming of the digital age, we have witnessed the rise of a visual culture where photography as a profession and art has evolved giving rise to a plethora of genres, attracting talented minds. However, many of these budding visual artists go unnoticed due to the lack of support in the form of equipment, funds, scholarships, and relevant platforms to display and publish their work.

The Neel Dongre Awards for Excellence in Photography aims at creating such a visual platform, where they get an opportunity to show-case their work to a relevant audience and get noticed, receive funds to support their projects so they can afford the required equipment and study material for the growth of their passion.

These awards seek to encourage budding artists and documentary photo practitioners from various genres on a national level; thereby, not only creating a platform for aspiring photographers but also using it as a medium to encourage a visual dialogue in the field.
Neel Dongre (1944-2009) was one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country who took a keen interest in mentoring young people, encouraged them to dream, and helped them fulfill their ambitions. These awards are aimed at recognizing young and emerging photographers who demonstrate talent and the passion to communicate with visuals.

About India Photo Archive Foundation
India Photo Archive Foundation is a Trust for the creation of awareness of contemporary and historical photographs, creation of archives highlighting their historical value and for encouraging their dissemination, access and use for academic, institutional and cultural purpose.

The Foundation also aims at encouraging a visual dialogue in the field of photography through various initiatives and to aid the development of a platform for amateur and professional photographers, over the ages. With this in mind, The Neel Dongre Awards for Excellence in Photography were launched in 2012.

Following are the photographers with the respective traditions documented by them:
Ankit Agrawal: The Art of Making Tanpura; Miraj, Maharashtra
Bharat Tiwari: Chanderi Sarees made with Traditional Handlooms; Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh
Mrigank Kulshrestha: Muga & Eri Silk cultivation; Assam
Taha Ahmad: Mukaish Badla and its disappearing craftsmen; Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Vikas Gupta: Studio photographers who held on to Analog photography till the very end; Kurukshetra, Haryana

Jury: Parthiv Shah, Photographer, Film Maker, Graphic Designer
Curator: Aditya Arya, Photographer, Historian and Archivist

Date: 21st to 2nd April 2017
Venue: India International Centre, Lodhi Road, Delhi

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