First-hand narration of rural life through photographs

First-hand narration of rural life through photographs

How do we frame rural life without romanticising or idealising it? Two organisations have given an answer through images captured by youth and women from villages in Chamarajnagar and Uttara Kannada districts.

In a series of photos, Mahadevamma, a tailor from Nagavalli in Chamarajanagar, captures a woman playing with her dog amid a heap of freshly harvested turmeric crop. The point of view is more of a passerby, placing the subjects in their everyday life rather than making a special occasion out of it.

Land and Lens, the week-long exhibition, opened at the Venkatappa Art Gallery on Saturday. Curated by city-based artist Suresh Kumar, the photographs tell the tales usually inaccessible to a trained urban photographer.

"As a photographer from a city, even if I have a rural background, I tend to frame everything as an exotic element, which runs the risk of undermining the truth. The photos here challenge conventions in their own way and refuse to be labelled," Kumar told DH.

Nagaveni, a student from Aralipura, said women are usually not allowed outside the house. "When I said I was capturing pictures of our village for this project, they made an exception. There are many stories for everything in my village and I want to tell them through my photos," she said.

Naina Naik's photo from a farmland in Sirsi, Uttara Kannada, shows grass rising up to a miniature Eiffel Tower, making it smaller amid the surrounding greenery.

The participants are a part of Punarchit and Vanastree, two collectives working for rural empowerment and sustained livelihood in Chamarajnagar and Sirsi. An auto driver, a farmhand, a student, a housewife and many others bring a rich diversity to the project.

Kumar said the idea behind the exhibition was much more than offering fresh narratives in the age of screen fatigue. "The rural folk have a rich sense of aesthetics and the exhibition is to reinforce that idea among the urban masses," he said.

The exhibition will be on till April 13. Visitors can also purchase handmade organic products.

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