pondyphoto_openingPondyPHOTO 2016 – WATER
26 August to 11 September
The Old Port, Pondicherry

– see event schedule below –

If you like photography, you are in for something “grandiose” with the biennial PondyPHOTO festival starting the 26th of August at the Old Port in Pondicherry. And even if you are not so much into photography, all the elements are there to assure you a spectacle you will remember.

The theme is ‘water’, the place is Pondicherry and the photographers, mostly from India, have won international awards and acclaim.

Your eyes are going to gaze at everything you can think of that represents water, from scenes of landscapes, environment and floods to the spiritual – water being the organic core of spiritual India and a lot of other places in the world as a matter of fact. And if you think you’ve seen enough of India, some international photographers will transport you to other parts of the world to intermingle with the joy, pleasure, horror and aesthetics of the water element.

But apart from the world’s best photography on the theme of water, PondyPHOTO is presented like a big festival with art available for all through interactive exhibits, workshops, presentations, discussions, performances, as well as films and documentaries represented by 20 international award-winning film makers, all on the theme of water. The festival is backed by national and international art agencies, organisations, scientists, activists and researchers.

As always, festivals and exhibits have a few goals, and the main one aimed at here is to raise consciousness. There is the awareness that what these images will trigger in the subconscious part of the mind could achieve what years of education cannot on the usage of water. Who is truly aware of water when brushing teeth, washing vegetables, or shampooing? Only scarcity or cost usually makes a difference. Living on a boat for a while, or in a place with no running water will do that, but for most of the world population, using water is just like breathing air. Nobody knows where their water comes from nor the technology and labor it took to get into their faucet. Supported by the emotional impact of the visual and all the interactive presentations, the educative part of this festival could be its greatest value.

But apart from the content of the exhibition itself, what will make this photo exhibit absolutely memorable is its location. Kasha Vande, the founder of PondyART and the organiser of this festival, had the innovative idea to utilise an under-utilised space in Pondicherry, none other than the original port enclave called and known as “The Old Port”.

In this 5 acres of what could be easily used as a movie set, hang on the dilapidated ocher walls some of the best photographs in the world on water, inside and outside hangars, each of them a few meters in length and width, waiting for your appreciation, emotions, criticism and feelings of awe. This exotic cocktail of what could be a 3D movie with India, France, old, new, colours, black and white… the whole site is simply breathtaking.

Opening on the 26th of August, the festival will last 16 days, enough time to go back a couple of times and simply dive again into the water of your choice.

This is what Pablo Bartholomew, a Padma Shri award-winning photographer said about the last PondyPHOTO exhibition in 2014:

“The PondyART show at the Old Distillery is probably one of the most ambitious and wonderful initiatives that I have ever been part of. The use of the location, the display in scale and size with all the added collateral events has made this one of the most courageous, experimental and important happenings to engage the public in recent times. It will be a difficult bench mark for others in bigger cities to match up to in years to come”

…but I bet this one will!

This article was written by Chana Corinne Devor for Auroville Art Service. Presently exploring Auroville, she is an art critic and writes for international travel and spiritual magazines.