THE MERCHANT OF IMAGES
Special Project Curator: Aradhana Seth
Artist and curator, Aradhana Seth’s mobile photo studio project ‘The Merchant of Images’ is an ongoing transnational conversation, led by the act of photography. Seth invites the public into the slower, more considered space of the old-fashioned photo studio, to a time when the visit was as memorable as the image that resulted from it. The starkly realist medium of photography was always subverted and playfully tweaked by the hand of fantasy—whether through fantastic backdrops, theatrically staged poses, or by hand painting the final image to infuse it with colour.
What she offers through ‘The Merchant of Images’ is a chance to become a part of a choreographed image, and stillness in the age of the selfie. The project is therefore an invitation of sorts. An invitation to reflect as well as to perform, an invitation to look carefully at your surroundings and to be aware of the images you make.
Seth’s studio has travelled the world. From Vancouver to Jaipur, Kochi to Derby and most recently to Delhi, finally the studio travels to Goa with The Serendipity Arts Festival for a specially commissioned backdrop.
Taha Ahmad (b. 1994, Lucknow) is a visual artist and photographer based in India. He is represented as a part of VII Photo Agency’s mentorship program. Ahmad has been the first Indian to receive The Documentary Project Fund/Award 2017. He has received the Toto-Tasveer Award for Photography 2018 and the Neel Dongre Grant/Award for Excellence in Photography 2016-17. He received an honourable mention in the SDN "Documentary in the Era of Post-Truth Award". He has worked with WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) over the DST Core Project and has been a part of a travelling photo exhibition organized by Girl Count, BetiBachaoBetiPadhao and UN India. His work has been published internationally, and recently exhibited at the Eyes on Main Street– Wilson Outdoor Photo Festival, North Carolina, USA (2018); Festival Influences Indiennes, Angers, France (2018); Addis Foto Fest, Ethiopia, Africa (2018); Festival of Photography Maribor, Slovenia, Europe (2018); ‘Born Under a Bad Sign’, The Neon Heater Art Gallery, Findlay, Ohio, USA (2018); and has been screened at the Alliance française de Bangalore (2018). His work has been a part of the initiative and exhibition ‘Photography on a Postcard’ organized by the Print Space Gallery London UK, and has been selected among 30 participants from 13 Countries for the 14th Angkor Photo Workshop organized by Angkor Photo Festival, Siem Reap, Cambodia 2018.
Image: Photograph of Martin Parr from The Merchant of Images studio at Format Festival by Aradhana Seth.