Dystopia & Memories


Of all art forms, photography is perhaps the greatest weapon against exposing and calling out injustice. Photographs harbour an undeniable sense of immediacy that cannot be denied. Today, however, it is no longer sufficient to simply share an image in the hope of eliciting a reaction from the audience at large. A photographer needs to ensure that an image benefits a group of people or even a single individual. The benefit may be in terms of knowledge, an introduction to a new idea, or a new awakening to something that did not exist before.

Better Photography introduces 10 diverse artists, currently exhibiting at the third edition of the Chennai Photo Biennale. This year, the theme titled Maps of Disquiet, has been carefully curated by four artists—Arko Datto, Boaz Levin, Kerstin Meincke and Bhooma Padmanabhan. The Biennale reflects 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.

The works on display reflect our current times, but with the hope of enabling us to rethink the trajectory of society and race. The Biennale offers an open-ended draft, not a gridded order capturing territory, but a loosely woven plurality of narratives, histories, and future visions of troubles and resistance.

Better Photography asked Anaïs Tondeur, Arthur Crestani, Babu Eshwar Prasad, Gauri Gill, Parvathi Nayar and Nayantara Nayar, Rohit Saha, Siva Sai Jeevanantham, Sridhar Balasubramanium, and Yuvan Aves to speak about today’s disquietude, a theme that’s pronounced in their diverse, thought-provoking works.