2015 UMRAO SINGH SHER-GIL GRANT FOR PHOTOGRAPHY

Grant recipient: Shan Bhattacharya, Kolkata

Title of the project: Portal

My ongoing project, Portal constructs dated photographs held together by a fictional narrative in the form of a diary. This collection of ‘fake’ documents are comprised of old prints, negatives, polaroids, plates, contact sheets, magazine and newspaper cuttings, old letters, advertising leaflets – all created by me. The narration is by a fictional character, the owner of a fictional photography studio in Calcutta, as he pursues a curious case and becomes the collector of these images and documents. Through these, he attempts to trace photographic evidences of an apparently ageless character he encounters in his studio in the year 1994. This is a work that takes elements from storytelling genres like detective thriller and supernatural fiction as our (sometimes unreliable) narrator continues his search of the elusive object of his interest, a woman who does not age.

The photographs themselves range from early twentieth century and I am trying to implement exact formats, techniques and equipments available in each era to create photos from that respective point in time. Through this, I attempt to take a brief look at the history of vernacular photography in this region, information about society, popular culture, fashion and other iconography. The project in its completed form will have a considerable amount of text-based material in the form of diary pages, letters, official documents etc. I want to present the completed project in such a way as if this is some sort of a hoax and I, the author, am only presenting someone else’s collection of photographic ‘evidence’.

STATEMENT BY THE JURY