India’s newest festival took photography to the slums; we ask the founders how the first edition went and how they plan to grow
Indian photographer Poulomi Basu is a rising star of documentary photography. Part of VII’s mentor programme, she’s a Magnum Foundation Award winner and was nominated for the Paul Huf Award this year. Even so, she’s sometimes felt jaded with an industry she believes confines itself to a very limited audience.
Determined to do something to bring it to a wider public, she joined forces with British filmmaker CJ Clarke and friends to found Just Another Photo Festival, which enjoyed its first edition last September in New Delhi. “We saw an opportunity to do something different: to change the paradigm and put the audience on a pedestal, not the photographer,” she explains.
Just Another Photo showcased work by 150 photographers from over 35 countries, including big names such as Roger Ballen, Philip Toledano and Sim Chi Yin but also grass-roots female photo collectives such as Rawiya and Foto Feminas. “We want JAPF to be global in perspective and have strived to include diverse work that shows new perspectives to an Indian audience,” says Basu.
The photographers’ work was shown in 11 locations around the city, including public spaces such as malls, universities and slums. Informed by the dizzying inequalities in India, the organisers were determined to open up access, and were met with an overwhelmingly positive response. “It validates our attempt to organise an event which is open and inclusive, and which is away from any hierarchy, power and politics,” says Basu. “We’ve already had many offers to take the festival to other cities.”
The team plans to expand next year, taking the festival to two more cities, and is talking to TV networks about possible collaborations. “The festival will be a continually evolving process. We will continue to learn and adapt to ensure that we reach audiences who cannot readily access such work,” says Clarke. “We want to learn from them and make the experience better each time we hold the festival.
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