chronicling domestic 
experiences of  women, queer, trans and other marginalised identities of northeast India and darjeeling hills during the covid-19 lockdown.

Sheela7.jpg

Photo by Sheela Bantawa Rai

Through Her Lens: 

Reframing the Domestic

Through Her Lens is a visual research programme in collaboration with Zubaan Publishers Pvt Ltd., supported by Sasakawa Peace Foundation, under the Fragrance of Peace Project. It aims to expand women's photographic practices in the eight Northeast Indian states and Darjeeling Hills. 

 

The COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying lockdown has confined us to the four walls of our homes. ‘Home’ or the domestic sphere is both a material space where we enact social actions and relations, as well as a concept, embodied through each person’s lived experiences. 

 

For some, it’s a safe place signifying love and nurture, for few an extension of their individuality and for others, a place of abuse and terror. Yet for many, it's a non-existent entity. The domestic space is also a fluid notion, where its sense and significance is continuously altering. During this year’s lockdown, we’ve witnessed several different meanings of the concept of home. 

 

THL: Reframing the Domestic aims to visually manifest the experiences of women, queer and other marginalized identities within the domestic space during the current COVID-19 crisis and the contestations, negotiations, etc. that emerge from them. 

 

The project emerges from these present challenges — the lockdown, the collapse of the ‘public’ and the ‘private’ space, the merging of paid, unpaid work, etc.. Photographers are navigating their own domestic space and documenting intimate relations. This makes it a deeply personal work for anyone and the act of photography acquires new meaning. The distance between the documentarian and the subject, between the storyteller and the story has evidently collapsed. 

 

How do you photograph your own? How do you document objectively? How do you seek consent from close relations? How do you articulate feminist ethics in photography? How do you negotiate the audience’s gaze on your private space? 

 

We hope to engage with these issues through photography and our weekly webinar series, Through Her Lens: Conversations, with researchers, activists, curators and photographers.

The exhibition is curated by Mridu Rai (curator) and Anushya Pradhan (assistant curator).

 

Sheela2.jpg

Photo by Sheela Bantawa Rai

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