Photographs That Challenge Queer & Gender Norms

Photographs That Challenge Queer & Gender Norms By Indu Antony And Chinar Shah

If you looked very carefully around the sixth installment of Art Bengalaru, you might have been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the work of Chinar Shah and Indu Antony. Tucked around the back corner of the lounge, away from most of the festival work, the two photographers were hung side by side. After exploring all of the art I could find at the festival, scouring the festival map, and asking staff – who told me that there was no Chinar Shah showing in the festival – it was with no small measure of difficulty that I located the frames of these two artists, frames that were created to challenge the binary notion of gender that holds sway in the popular imagination.

Even as much of the world is waking up to bright new tomorrow with Caitlin Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair, it still remains vexingly difficult to bring queer content to mainstream Indian media. A piece on gay nightlife in New Delhi that I once pitched to a prominent magazine kept its nightlife spin, but didn’t have even a hint of gay in it by the time the editing process was done. And I’ve been trying to sell a piece on gay parenting in India for over a year – the topic strikes me as surefire gold – but no editor with a bank account large enough to pay me for my time has been willing to bite. Much credit goes to Jayaram Suresh, who curated Art Bengaluru, for bringing Chinar and Indu along, even if they did end up relegated to an isolated corner.
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