Imagining the Nation State

Imagining the Nation State

Various Artists

© Huw Alden Davies


Chennai Photo Biennale Foundation in collaboration with the Ffotogallery/Diffusion Festival, with the support of the British Council and Wales Arts International launched an Open Call in 2020 for a grant for resident photographers and lens based artists from India and Wales to submit proposals on the theme – Imagining the Nation State.

The applications were reviewed and selected by a noted jury of artists and curators - Monica Narula, Raqs Media Collective and Sheba Chhachhi from India, and Damarice Amao - Assistant Curator of Photography, Centre Pompidou from France along with the organisers, Shuchi Kapoor from Chennai Photo Biennale Foundation and David Drake from Ffotogallery/Diffusion, Wales.

This collaboration between CPB Foundation and Ffotogallery enabled a total of five grant awards instead of the original plan of four to photographers/lens-based artists for the production of work on their proposed projects, which received their first physical exhibition in October 2021 as part of the fifth biennial edition of Diffusion: Wales International Festival of Photography.


What the Jury had to say about the theme

"The crises we are living amidst today- the pandemic, migration, geopolitical tensions, the calling into question of race and gender inequalities, undermine more than ever the foundations of the concept of ‘nation state’ born in the 19th century. At the same time these tensions reveal a continued intense desire to build community beyond borders or even simply with our neighbours from our building or locality. What sensitive and symbolic narratives can individuals bring out and share from these existing communities and those to come?"

Damarice Amao

Imagining the Nation State’ allows for an opening into questions of justice, and location, in the world. To imagine this now is a necessary challenge, as our highly volatile and networked world makes for a peculiar space for both its presence and its disappearance -

Monice Narula, Raqs Media Collective

"We live in times of great upheaval at every level - ecological, political, economic, social, personal - and the pandemic has brought underlying structural issues into sharp focus, emblematic of a pre-existing systemic crisis. Globally, states and populations have responded to this by populist authoritarian measures and reconstructing nationalism. In India, we witness, through the unprecedented use of mediatic means, the creation of a narrative of an imagined expansive Hindu Nation, markedly different from previous imaginings of the nation. I believe the invitation to critically engage with questions around the nation, states, and identity is both timely and significant."-

Sheba Chhachhi - Artist, Writer