‘A Letter from My Homeland’ brings together five visual art practitioners who practise photography as an alternative medium of their artistic expression. The core thread of the exhibition that binds the works of the five together is the idea of homeland and identity. The lands that they belong to are often represented in their works through the vastness of the landscape, architectural elements, rhythm of patterns, people in their solitary moments and metaphorical objects around them. Five individuals, hailing from five geographical locations (Bangladesh, India, Iran, Nepal and Pakistan), have found distinct ways to represent their respective homeland from an insider’s perspective. The lens that captures the moments is, more often than not, compassionate, poetic and that of a flâneur. This approach makes each place a coveted one to dwell in. As Roland Barthes writes in his seminal book, Camera Lucida, “For me, photographs of landscape (urban or country) must be habitable, not visitable.” It can be said, therefore, that the homeland shapes the artist’s identity and vice versa.
In the contemporary scenario, artists from certain countries and communities are often expected to portray their geopolitical concerns in a very clichéd manner in their practice. This virtual exhibition, in a way, attempts to depart from this stereotype by putting together more personal, sometimes hopeful, stories. Abdul Musawir Shabbir from Lahore, Pakistan captures a serene mood in his works. Framed by the beautiful arches, windows and staircases, the subjects in his photographs narrate the tales of a slow-paced life, maybe of a time bygone. Binaya Humagain provides us glimpses of the streets and public places of Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. Pitted against the bleeding vermillion or the royal blue background, the contours of his subjects stand the testimony to hardships. The portrait of Iran that we witness through Mohsen Sakha’s lens is far from the media-generated picture of violence, brutality and military tensions. Rather, a blanket of emptiness shrouds the vast, barren landscape with roads lying on its rustic body. The road becomes the metaphor for an endless journey that continues crossing all the odds. Naim Ul Hasan’s recent clicks of his domestic space in Dhaka, Bangladesh are nothing short of the everyday drama taking place in the most prosaic corners of the house. Pallov Saikia takes us to his native place in Rahmaria, Assam, India, where the river seems a living being and moments of struggle and hardship are captured through a compassionate, poetic lens placing boats at the centre of the story. ‘A Letter from My Homeland’ is thus a compilation of five individual journeys embarked by the five artists in search of the soul of their beloved homelands.