Chennai Photo Biennale was founded by the CPB Foundation and Goethe-Institut, Chennai in 2016 as a public arts initiative in response to the growing interest in photography in India, specifically in Chennai.
Spread along the length of the city, from the beaches in South Chennai to the fishing villages of the north, Chennai Photo Biennale aims to extend itself beyond traditional exhibition spaces to public spaces and those parts of Chennai that have remained outside the realm and remit of contemporary cultural activities. Conceived as a city biennale, CPB’s primary goal is to bring Chennai into its fold by engaging different communities and generations through exhibitions, workshops, panel discussions, presentations, mentorships and educational programs. In a globalized world, where the photographic image has transformed from its primary objective of representation, depiction and documentation to become a measure of identity and self worth, it becomes imperative to reassess its purpose, its potential and its power to impact the human mind and decision making.
Acutely aware of the dearth of spaces as well as indifference towards a unified effort in the Southern region to bring visibility to historical and contemporary photography from India and the subcontinent, Chennai Photo Biennale made its foray in February 2016. As a month long event, the Biennale installed photographic works in train stations, public parks and galleries spread across Central and South Chennai. Along with the exhibitions, the Biennale initiated an important dialogue on environmental, cultural and economic issues through mentorship, presentations and films. This first edition of the Biennale welcomed over 100,000 visitors.
Chennai Photo Biennale commits to marking Chennai on the International map of photography by:
• Demystifying the different genres of photography for the common man through large scale exhibitions in unexpected public spaces such as fishing harbours, abandoned factories, walking promenades, beaches, temple areas, popular cultural spots and educational institutions
• Providing exhibition opportunities for Indian and international photographers regardless of class, caste, race, gender, ethnic background or sexual orientation
• Creating mentorship opportunities and providing scholarships for young photographers and curators
• Developing workshops with schools and colleges and other marginalised sections of society all through the year to nurture and expand the understanding of photograph
• Exploring the potential of photography by engaging with historical archives and contemporary practices
• Encouraging meaningful socio-political discussions through talks and symposiums
• Publishing photobooks in print and electronic formats
• Disseminating knowledge through screenings of films, thought provoking projections and guided walks that form an integral part of any biennale’s itinerary.
The 1st edition of Chennai Photo Biennale was held from 26 February – 13 March, 2016 and the 2nd edition from 22 February – 24 March, 2019.Source: chennaiphotobiennale.com