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BANGALORE, India — COVID-19 may have closed the door to the outside world, but for photographers worldwide, being indoors and the time for introspection offered a new form of creativity. Screenshots over video chat became the new normal. Pages like Girls of Isolation helped thousands of women embrace their vulnerabilities and fears through self-portraits.
In India, photographers took to the art form to document themselves in solitude. For some, self-portraits became a coping mechanism to process their emotions during the prolonged quarantine. Many photographers who were used to shooting others were forced to confront their camera shyness and find a new comfort zone as their own muses.
New, evocative methods of self-expression emerged, with photographers exploring the ideas of self, home, and belonging by photographing their own bodies and environments. These are not mainstream photographers but independent voices from across the subcontinent, with photographers from remote parts in the northeast of India, to those in the North and South making these ephemeral images behind closed doors.
Hear what image-makers across India had to say about the creative process in their isolation:
“The process of ideating and building each self-portrait granted access to my place of inner calm during terribly uncertain times. This was my way of taking back power from losing work and losing freedom during lockdown. Considering my camera-shyness, it was a straightforward decision to focus on the back of the body, eliminating the face. This way, I could focus on the most basic elements of what I consider fashion and art are truly concerned with: color, form, and texture.”Shaheen Peer
“Photographers around the world, confronted with the pandemic, are feeling a collective anxiety and looking for ways to respond to the times. I see so many of us trying to assert our identity through self-portraits at a time when we are facing this existential threat. While acknowledging our helplessness, we are leaving a small mark of defiance.”Sameer Raichur
“I have been making self-portraits for a few years now because I want to own my story. In the last six months, I’ve photographed myself more often and used the medium as an outlet to express myself. These photographs are a reflection of what and how I felt, a reminder of time.”Menty Jamir
“This was taken on May 8 when I was feeling angsty, waiting for the moon to show. Chasing sunsets and trailing the moon are how I got through months of isolation — their cyclical nature not only provided great comfort to my loneliness but also reiterated to me that this too shall pass.”Nidhi Jacob
“This image was shot in March after I lost my grandfather. I was in Austria then, and I couldn’t meet my family when I returned because of the lockdown. I was going through a turmoil of emotions, and these images became a way to see myself in third person and get a different perspective, to know myself better.”Urvi Desale
“Being stuck in Shillong — a new city for me — during the lockdown was tough. The situation was overwhelming, with all the uncertainties lying ahead. Amidst the struggle, I made this photograph, which was my hope of light in the darkness.”Deepti Asthana
“I bought a camera. There was no one to photograph. I turned it around and took a picture of myself. I finally understood what Leonard Cohen meant when he said, ‘That’s what sitting on your ass does to your face.’”Isaac Nico
“Being isolated has given us all a moment of respite from all the distractions we normally have, and when we couldn’t go outside, a lot of us went inward. I found myself doing this daily, and painfully at times, but also found an ease that I didn’t normally have. I wanted to document this private moment of not knowing who I am, combined with the transient moment of discovering who I am. By shooting myself in silhouette, I could keep the moment private and deny the viewer things I wasn’t ready to share yet.”Nayantara Parikh
“In the initial days of lockdown, I missed home. I was staying at my grandparents’ cousin’s home and felt alone. But they poured love selflessly to make sure that I felt like I was at my home. Whenever I felt overwhelmed by their kindness or some sadness, I took these self-portraits. They are about surroundings, gratitude, and living in the moment.”Preksha Kothari
“The monotony of the past few months has felt like a blur. During the six-month home lockdown, I always had my hibiscus plants to keep me company. This plant on my window flowered more than 150 flowers through this time, bringing me immense joy and lots of birds for company.”Karan Khosla
“My grandmother (Dadi) passed away in April, and this photo was taken when we visited her birthplace. We were sorting through her saree collection, and I chose to keep the one in the picture for myself. I was wearing a T-shirt and sneakers at the time, and trying on the saree over them only seemed natural. I think my Dadi would have approved.”Nirali Naik
“The sun was me. The air was me. The anxiety was me. And I was them.
All tangled up and coexisting like roots in dirt.”Rishabh Malik
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…