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Photographs of the uncommon at Serendipity Arts Festival

Co-founder of the Delhi Photo Festival and curator of on-going photo exhibitions, three solo and a group exhibition at the Serendipity Arts Festival (SAF), Dinesh Khanna has been doing his bit to promote photography as an art- form. While interacting with NT BUZZ Dinesh speaks about his curatorial approach to the festival in Goa


Having being associated with photography over the years, Dinesh Khanna has extensively worked towards understanding various aspects of photography. Also as the co-founder and managing trustee of Nazar Foundation, he has been working towards promoting photography as an art-form.

The group show at the Festival is titled ‘Unsung: celebrating the extraordinary grandeur of smallness’ co-curated by another photographer Mahesh Bhat. The three curated solo exhibitions are: ‘Oceans of Life: India’s Coastal Inhabitants’ by Navtej Singh and ‘A slow violence: Stories from the largest river basin in the world’ by Arati Kumar Rao and ‘Nature Untamed’ by Anup Shah.

The curatorial process

Dinesh speaks about how he has tried to bring about the uncommon and unfamiliar aspects of photography to the audience. He says: “Photography is one of the most democratic art forms today and everyone is into it – professionals or amateurs. Today photography is in the hands of everyone who owns a camera. Even if the photographs are not great, certainly the interest in photography is wide spread today.”

He mentions that there are photographers working in different areas of interest; while some are serious photographers like photo-journalists and documentary photographers there are the others working in genres like wildlife, fashion, food and interior and architecture, culture. “The whole idea is to bring this kind of photography to the festival that is often neglected. The audience mostly prefers this kind of work and there are some great photographers who often are good in their work though their ideas behind the work would not be about changing the world; they have been working effortlessly to show the other side of life,” he says.

Interestingly, until this conversation, he had not personally met the photographers exhibiting at the Festival, but has curated the exhibitions solely based on their photographs. Dinesh says: “While there are some photographers like Mahesh who I have heard about, I have not met the others like Anup Shah but have seen a lot of their work and respect them for what they have been doing.”

The caste factor

Dinesh tells us that he was introduced to photography at an early age because his father was a professional photographer, but he did not want to follow in his father’s footsteps as he thought it would be akin to the caste system. Recalling his initial reluctance, he says: “My love for photography came from my father and I learned the basics from him… I had access to all the elements of photography but I thought if I followed my father’s profession, I would fall victim to the caste system. So, I joined advertising but my first love – photography – remained. And I went back to it eventually.”

Dinesh has exhibited in both solo and group exhibitions across the globe.

Photograph evoking a social message?

In recent times many people consider photography as a medium to convey a social message. Refuting this idea, Dinesh says: “An art form is about the expression and engagement of an individual with a particular subject, whether it has a social message or not is not necessary. Though it is controversial to say it, today people are perceiving art to bring about a social change which I do not subscribe to completely.”

Giving an example to support his statement he asks: “Does good music always give out a social message or is dance being performed only to bring out a social perspective? If you see, good music can be classical, Bollywood or Hollywood, it cannot be themed on social messages. So, why is photography being considered this way? It is about a person’s engagement towards a particular craft and his expression about a subject.”


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