Guftgu / Guft-gu: / गुफ्तगू / گفتگو
Editor/Curator: Anshika Varma
Published by Offset Projects
Hard Case deconstructed photobook featuring chapters by 10 contemporary photographers from India, Nepal and Pakistan.
Diwas Raja KC
Arun Vijai Mathavan
The Guftgu book published by Offset Projects looks at the interrogations and practices of 10 contemporary photographers in South Asia presented as individual chapters designed in context to each artists practice and process. The works featured look at inquiries on identity formation and history building through perspectives of gender, caste and inheritance among many others. Emerging out of dialogues with practitioners when our world seemed restrained physically, the works incorporated in this curation expand on a growing visual language within South Asia and its diaspora. It offers a complex study of a land in transit, triggered by personal responses of photographers to their contemporary climates.
The artists in this book have used the language of the photograph to make sense of their worlds, be curious about them, playful with them and provoke readers to find their own answers to the questions layered in their narratives. For each author, the personal is the political, and the photograph– a way to fuse these worlds together. The contexts of these works are critical to assimilate a sense of identity, and we find this in the stories of each photographers' gendered and communal experiences.
Social and political constructs are interrogated by the powerful voices of Nida Mehboob and Jaisingh Nageswaran, who draw upon their personal experiences to lay bare the existing structural violence of our times.
Uma Bista’s experiences of discrimination against girls and women during their menstrual cycles in Nepal aids the creation of visual scapes in which she is both powerless and powerful. Through her work, Bista expresses a frustration with the weight of prevailing gendered norms in her society.
Arun Vijais’ engagement with nature as a child transforms vast panoramas of wasteland to something known, seen from the fields behind his village. An unwanted landscape becomes familiar in an unfamiliar city, presenting questions on the politics of human aspiration.
Adira Thekkuveetil and Amarnath Praful question the evolution of how we receive photographs today. Their dissection references our colonized pasts and seeks to destabilize the persistence of such a gaze.
Diwas Raja takes us into the private world of family archives, poring over the pages of photo-albums carefully put together from the Feminist Memory Project in Nepal. We see these images from the eyes of the archivist and curator, detailing observations of ephemeral histories coded in the subtle arrangements of an album. Encrypted in these private memories, invisible histories begin to find a voice and place.
Revisiting memories brings up traumatic questions for Cheryl Mukherjee, about her own inheritance. Mukherjee seeks refuge in a cycle of textual assertions and reassertions on the passage of time, blended with images from her mother’s archives.
Nandita Raman’s images serve as mnemonic devices portraying a journey of coming into her own. In the pages of her zine, we begin to find motifs of an existence that is both rooted and transient.
Arko Datto, on the other hand, creates a satire represented in the institutionalized study of an extinct species. Seeped in political commentary and observations on the changing nature of Indian democracy, the work presents a fresh visual language to often-contentious ideas and subjects.
In the growth of unprecedented reception and creation of imagery, Guftgu probes the emergence of a visual voice that has chosen to move away from narratives seeped in the outsiders gaze. Navigating between the positions of writer and photographer, we begin to look at these images as a form of introspection, expression and defiance by its authors.