It’s the country that gave us curry, chess, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Priyanka Chopra: India — in all its otherworldly charm, diversity and resplendence — is the focus of FotoFest’s 2018 Biennel.
Titled “INDIA/Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art,”the artwork from 48 artists from India and the global Indian diaspora will be on display at four locations: Silver Street Studios, Winter Street Studios, The Silos at Sawyer Yards and the Asia Society Texas Center. (FotoFest has also released a companion book of the same name.) But there will be six weeks of related programming going on around the city as well. Here are the particulars:
At the top of the related programming is a two-day symposium happening later in the month. Journalist/author P. Sainath (Everybody Loves a Good Drought) will serve as the keynote speaker at 6 pm on Friday, March 23, at the Asia Society Texas Center. Panel discussions with scholars and participating artists will go down on Saturday, March 24, at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston Law Building, starting at 2. There will be a panel discussion noon, Sunday, March 11, also at Asia Society, featuring artists Tenzing Dakpa, Sarindar Dhaliwal and Annu Palakunnathu Matthew.
Also on that day, artist Max Kandhola will be in conversation with Biennial curator Sunil Gupta, as part of FotoFest’s “Creative Conversations” series at the Whitehall Houston Hotel at 6 pm. The Whitehall will also have the FotoFest Fine Print Auction, a fundraiser which will auction off 76 artworks from 74 artists (12 of them Indian). That’s on Monday, March 19.
The MFAH has already made itself a destination for Indian history and culture when the artifact exhibit Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodphur, India was recently put on display through August. The film department has also rounded up an eclectic collection of Indian feature films, documentaries and shorts, which FotoFest is also sponsoring.
The films are broken-down into three segments: India on Screen (which consists of two unique docs, Shalom Bollywood: The Untold Story of Indian Cinema and Sita Sings the Blues, screening next week), Stories of Contemporary India on Screen (a series of documentaries that will unspool in April), and Merchant Ivory in India (made-in-India films by the legendary duo of Ishmail Merchant and James Ivory, screening in April and May).
Appearances and auctions
Author Sujatha Gidla will be in town in to read from her recently-released book, Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India. That’s at 7 pm on Wednesday, April 4, at the Silos at Sawyer Yards. Also in April, artist Ram Rahman will be at the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center in Sugar Land to discuss his work and SAMHAT, a Delhi-based collective he co-founded, filled with artists and scholars ready to promote cultural pluralism and secularism in India. That's on Sunday, April 15.
Finally, FotoFest has gotten together with James Beard Award-nominated chef Anita Jaisinghani for a discussion on the evolution of Indian food. Of course, there will be several dishes that’ll be on hand for sampling and savoring, on Wednesday, March 28, at Pondicheri Bake Lab + Shop, at 7:30 pm. Registration is required.
FotoFest's activities run Friday, March 9, through Sunday, April 22, at various locations. Visit FotoFest’s site for more information.