A group of like-minded individuals some curious, some creatively inclined and some very talented assembled at PageTurners Bookstore, MG Road on Saturday, September 3, for a popular event called the Open Show.
I probably belong to the category of the curious and creatively inclined and couldn’t wait to check it out.
Open Show organises events around the world where the public can see compelling work and interact directly with photographers, filmmakers and multimedia producers.
Free monthly social screenings give five curated presenters (from students to professionals) 10 minutes to project a 20 image project or 3‐7 min. multimedia work with audience feedback. They showcase diverse projects including reportage, fine art, commercial, historical and more.
I was pleasantly surprised and creatively satiated with the show as the evening progressed. An informal, friendly crowd put the presenters at ease. The venue almost resembled a camp-fire with people sitting around sharing stories and exchanging ideas. In the process nudging the talented presenters to perform, picking their brains and inspiring others too.
Madhu Reddy and Team Bangalore
The credit for starting this venture here goes to Madhu Reddy who was influenced by Tim Wagner and Andre Herman, photographers and multi-media producers who started the Open Show in San Francisco in 2008.
Madhu, currently a freelance photographer and Director of the Open Show had presented her work at the San Francisco show. After talking to Wagner, she carried the concept to India.
Madhu along with the Bangalore co-producers Roy Sinai, Poonam Parihar and Kshitiz Anand have successfully done about 11 Open Shows in Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Of which 5 were held in Bangalore. Chennai is another venue that is being considered.
Roy Sinai is a Bangalore based full-time photographer. Poonam Parihar is an independent social and travel photographer and travel writer. Kshitiz Anand is a documentary maker and wedding photographer who also runs workshops for the same in the city.
The selection process is tightly curated before the invitation is sent out to the presenters. "In general we all felt that we need a platform where one can present their project works, showcase stories and also connect with the photography community and the community at large." explained Madhu. This kind of platform along with traditional avenues like galleries to show print work, can help photographers to show their work, get feedback and assistance, she adds.
This Saturday had presenters M S Gopal, Sidharth Jain and Christina Daniels with a slide show of photographs. Pavithra Chalam screened three short documentaries edited to fit the time frame.
"My wife gave me a camera and it changed my life since. Now I publish for Tehelka, Mint and Time Out Bombay," said Gopal whose photography theme was ‘Workspace Mumbai‘
Siddharth Jain presented a slideshow of ‘Tales from Rajasthan‘ in which he captures the uniqueness of Rajasthan, avoiding the clichéd camel and fort pictures. He has also initiated the ‘Happy Camera Club’ a workshop for imparting the joys of photography to the underprivileged.
Christina Daniels photos evoked nostalgic memories with her theme ‘Cantonment Tales‘ capturing the old Bangalore of yester-years and their interesting history. She plans to put it all together in a book format eventually.
Pavithra Chalam kept the audience glued to the screen with her sensitive portrayal of social issues through her documentaries titled ‘Creating Hope. Celebrating Life’ with 3 short films Story of Devdasis, My friend addict and Khushboo.
Pavitra was among the 15 Indians selected as peace ambassador in 2002. She found her calling and enrolled for a one year course at the New York Film Academy. "Anything relating to the fabric of social life would be my theme of interest," she said regarding the selection of topics for her documentaries. Her documentaries have found worthy mentions at the AMC award in UK and at the NY film festival.
Since the Open Show is run by volunteers, they do need help in finding venues, provide the infrastructure to present the show and to spread the word. The idea is to keep getting submissions from photographers, multimedia and filmmakers.
"We would love to invite photographers from other parts of India to come to Bangalore but today we cannot assist them in their travel and hopefully we will be able to do so in the future with support and assistance from the community at large," said Madhu.
Impressive statistics for the Open Show include: More than 300 presentations in 2 years, 12 active cities in six countries, over six thousand members, more than 20 new cities being added as venues in 2011.