The history of photography in India presents some unexplored and unexpected gaps. One of the most understudied concept is that of ‘vernacular’ photography – a term often applied to quotidian images, which in India, given its colonial connotations, has been amended by visual anthropologists such as Christopher Pinney with the term mofussil or that which lies outside the centre and besides to the strictly metropolitan. The colloquial referencing of ‘vernacular’ focuses heavily on that which is ‘native,’ as distinguished from the ‘national.’ Hence, the focus on local, community-oriented, marginalized zones that may represent elided traditions come to the fore as viable parameters within which the term is broadly understood. However, very little has been written or exhibited about the subject matter and shifting contexts of mofusil photography today, given the extremely malleable sensibility and genre to which it alludes – further problematized today by social media, new media and the moving image, allowing definitions to further blur and rally other art-practices in order to garner meaning and perspective. Common Ground seeks to broaden the engagement with the term ‘vernacular,’ in both subject and technique, in order to think about how, with overlapping histories today, we can enhance our lens-culture.
Edson Beny Dias
Born in 1970 in Panjim, Goa, Edson Beny Dias is a self-taught photographer. He was introduced to photography early in his life by his godfather, who was a press photographer. His interest in photography and the arts led to him working in the design and computer industry until the late 2000’s, thereafter which he started working with alternative and historical photographic processes. After walking out of his job, Edson co-founded the Goa Centre for Alternative Photography (Goa CAP), which facilitated research in 19th century photographic processes for many artists in India and abroad through residencies, exhibitions, and photography contests. His long-term aim is to create a greater awareness of the “other” photography, where one can create beautiful and meaningful photographs with their hands. Alongside this, he seeks to create a physical space for alternative photography and its practitioners, providing all the equipment and chemicals needed to do world-class work.
Sukanya Ghosh is an artist, animator, and designer. She trained in Painting from the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University of Baroda and Animation Film Design from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. She works with popular imagery, photographs, collage, poetry, and the moving image. Sukanya received the Charles Wallace India Trust Award, Sarai Independent Fellowship, commissions from the French Embassy in India, Royal Commonwealth Society, Motiroti, UK among others. She was an Artist-in-Residence at Khoj, New Delhi; Spike Island, Bristol, UK; and AIR Vallauris, France. She currently lives and works between Delhi and Calcutta.
Uzma Mohsin was born in Aligarh and graduated from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. As part of her image-making practice, she uses personal voice, metaphorical exploration, and abstraction to unravel narratives of people, places and their histories. Her last three exhibitions include Girl Gaze: Journeys Through the Punjab & the Black Country, UK at Punjab Kala Bhawan, Chandigarh (2018), The Surface of Things: Photography in Process at Alliance Francaise (2016), Delhi and Zones of Privacy at Chatterjee & Lal gallery, Mumbai (2016). She was awarded the Alkazi Foundation’s Documentary Grant, in 2017.