OVERALL COMMENT FROM THE JURY
We were pleased to note that a number of people are trying to think about photography in new ways – trying to uncover its capacity not only to hold a mirror up to the world, but to also comment upon, reveal and critique that world too. This is where photography is at its most powerful and we’re glad to see that the younger generation of photographers in India is working in this way.
Nikhil Patel (Winner) for 'Surface with Memories'
This series first caught the judge’s attention for its unusual and creative presentation. The work physically layers two images on top of each other to create poignant juxtapositions. Two time frames exist simultaneously and the photographer has used this device to comment on the changing urban landscape in India. The nostalgia we feel when we witness old places being transformed into new places is common in all of us, and we found this series of photographs a thoughtful lament on this process. In an age of digital technology, this project could have been easily achieved on a computer. However, the tactile nature of the collages encourages a more human reading of the photographer’s concept, emphasizing the power of a simple idea.
Niha Masih (Winner) for 'Heart of Darkness'
We found 'Heart of Darkness' series to be evocative, powerful and disturbing with a moral centre to its expression. What we also appreciated about it is that the photographer used a literary title to describe his own work. 'Heart of Darkness' is the title of Conrad's book about a man traveling down a river looking for a monster of sorts, with all the excuses people use to reduce their own culpability. The protagonist finally finds instead a reflection of his own dark self. Conrad revealed the horror of colonialism and the dark violence that exists in human nature with his writing. This photographer has made photographs in diptych form to tell a larger story, not excluding himself/herself or our own larger responsibility and connectedness from the same story.
Shuvankur Ghosh (Jury Commendation) for 'Urban Gypsies'
'Urban Gypsies' is a hard-hitting piece of photojournalism. The judges were impressed by the direct, honest and straight-up expose of a serious issue. Whilst contemporary photography may have moved beyond the black and white documentary genre, this series acts as a reminder that this method of image making is unmatched in its ability to encourage empathy and understanding on behalf of the viewer. The series may deal specifically with displaced people in Kolkata, but it also reveals and exposes an issue prevalent across the whole country, and on the strength of this, the judges wanted to recognize the series, and commend the photographer.
Soumita Bhattacharya (Jury Commendation) for 'Body City-scape'
The judges liked this series for the questions it seems to ask the viewer; it hints at certain narratives without completely revealing them - making it playful, ambiguous and full of possible meanings. Each staged image from the series is technically strong and whilst humorous, one gets the sense of an intellectual curious and ambitious photographer whose future projects we greatly look forward to seeing.