Mum's the word in Dharavi

Five is a number Dharavi women are having faith in. Hardly superstition, it’s all about five women from Dharavi who have stepped outside the duties of their household and shunned all responsibilities, to be themselves and tell their stories, through a series of photographs. Today and tomorrow will be the last two days to witness, and understand these women who are showcasing their photographs through an exhibition-cum-fund raiser.

Amrita, a participant, photographed by Joanna the volunteer

Aqui Thami, Manager of Dharavi Art Room and Bombay Underground has been working towards providing a platform to the community, especially the youth and children in exploring themselves through art. On one of the outings with the kids, a girl mentioned to Thami how her mother never left home. Triggered by this, Thami asked women from the community — through a series of home visits and interviews — to participate in a photography workshop.

Thami and the course conductor, Joanna Wingate, an Arts graduate from Thames University (who specialises in photography) tried to impart them with a skill while making them share their common issues and concerns. They designed it as a five-week workshop that involved modules from how to charge a camera, to how to artfully click their stories. For every week, these women dedicated two hours for two days to themselves.

Still life photographed by Shobha, a participant

“We encouraged them to capture frames from their lives, things that they wanted to talk about,” says Thami. “Some learnt how to handle the light and reflector.”

Though the five women spoke Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Hindi — their communication was through portrait and street photography. The photographs and the pre-workshop interviews are compiled in a photobook, the proceeds of which will go to the women. The number five though looked small but “after the
first week, women wanted to join in and kept asking if it would be happening anytime soon,” reveals the Tata Institute of Social Sciences postgraduate.

Participants Nirmala with Aqui, photographed by Joanna

They intend to employ one of these women as assistant photographers in the future. It seems that Dharavi women are all set to click visitors who throng the area daily.

Till October 26, 10 am to 9 pm; October 27, 10 am to 7 pm at Art Loft, 37, Waroda Road, Bandra (W). call 9819132958 

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