Kashmir in Kala Ghoda
In light of the abrogation of Article 370, photographer Avani Rai hopes to create conversation by documenting reality in the region for an ongoing exhibition
In 1991, poet Agha Shahid Ali published Postcard from Kashmir. The concluding lines in the poem, describing the poet receiving a postcard from his native land, still mirror the reality of the region, in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370: “a giant negative, black and white, still undeveloped.” Closer home, at Method in Kala Ghoda, 16 black-and-white photographs in an exhibition titled Exhibit A by Avani Rai document the reality that is distorted and thrown out of context through propaganda today.
Avani Rai PIC/Mohammad Alvani
Rai visited Kashmir for the first time in 2014 to film a documentary on her father and veteran photojournalist Raghu Rai. And while she says, “I had no idea of conflict back then,” she draws the same comparisons with people spreading misinformation today despite a lack of historical knowledge. Rai returned to the region in 2016 to shoot the second half of the film and she now identifies herself as a photographer who is inseparable from the Valley. “Kashmir is the only place where I have never left home without picking up the camera. I’ve titled it Exhibit A because it is my first-hand account,” says Rai, who shuttles between Kashmir, Delhi and Mumbai.
Focusing on women and children, who bear the brunt of the violence, the 27-year-old maintains that she isn’t being political. “I’m here to have a conversation. People easily talk about Kashmir when it comes to tourism. That’s because Kashmiris are loving and welcoming. Children will play with you and women will hold your hand,” she says, summing up the crux of her show. Next year, Rai will publish a set of photographs in a book where she captures the four years she lived there. “I want to have hope in the people of our country.
The problem is that we’re always talking about revenge,” she concludes.
TILL August 24, 11 am to 8 pm
AT Method, Fort.
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