chinar shah-home away from home

Taste of India at Taste of India
Taste of India at Taste of India

In each part of the world, there are similarities, recurring names and iconography, which reflect regional cultures. The prevalence of the of Main Streets or Via Cavours or Mahatma Ghandi Boulevards in their respective cultures is a pleasant precursor to the fact that most cities are now outlined with strip malls featuring the same chain restaurants, service centers and shopping paradises. You can close your eyes entering a Statoil gas station in Sweden and still find your way to the café latté, the candy, and the groceries. The sameness is both disappointing and reassuring.

”Taste of India” by Aileen Blaney, Nihaal Faizal and Chinar Shah builds on the universality of the name ‘Taste of India.’ The exhibition is held in the restaurant Taste of India, housed in the Yelehanka bus stand, operated by chef Amod Kumar Bhutiani. Bhutiani started the restaurant in 2002 in the bus station, then moved to a more central shopping street in a second floor location, then nearby to a larger less central location, and now back to the bus stand. However, the clientele has followed the trail of stuffed parathas and fragrant northern curries, as well as the curated art exhibitions by students and faculty from Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, all around the neighbourhood.

The photographic work in the exhibition was curated by the artists from found-on-the-internet photographs of the facades of diverse restaurants all named ‘Taste of India.’ A sound piece regularly calls out ”Taste of India” in a computer generated tone on a loop from an inexpensive orange speaker which blends in with the decor of Yelahanka’s Taste of India, yet seems contrary to the richness of the flavor we associate with Indian cuisine.

While the sound piece mimics the sound of food orders called from waiter to cook, the text work, a menu, lists the addresses of the restaurants from around the world found on the internet. Some are in highway malls, some with architectural details or colors that seem to refer to the Motherland. The choice of showing the photographs snapshot size is congruent with the anthropological aspect of the project and works well in the intimate proportions of the space. The smaller size minimizes the variation of quality in the downloaded photographs and shares conceptual and archival roots with such projects as Ed Ruscha’s ”26 Gas Stations.”

The Yelehanka Taste of India closed almost directly after the opening of the exhibition and shifted to a new location. First hung in a grid, the photographs are now presented in a continuous line as if we are driving around the world only opening our eyes every 100 miles as we pass another ‘Taste of India’ calling to us. Downloaded from the internet, ”Taste of India” thus calls to the public from around the world.

The restaurants differentiate from one city to the next as each embodies a personal version of the taste and the tastes. This exhibition gives us hope for diversity.

Taste of India is on view at Taste of India in Yelehanka, Bangalore, India until March 22, 2016.

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The new breed of gallery owners in the city ensures that the distance between the art work and the viewer is minimal

Could there be a model different from the usual commercial art gallery system?

Could viewing art be made more experiential and less intimidating? With concerns like these weighing on their minds, many young art practitioners in the city are experimenting with spaces whose priority is to showcase art and not sell.

Read the full article at :

One Image Story: Chinar Shah

One Image Story: Chinar Shah from kapajeva on Vimeo.

One Image Story is an online curatorial project created by Maria Kapajeva. It is a collection of two-minute stories told by the artists themselves about one image that has been chosen through discussion with them. The project is an ongoing archive of stories from all over the world. The selection of the artists is based on the ideas in their work with rather than their gender.
Curated at :

@ The Hindu , Bangalore
Chinar ShahA photo artist and a faculty at Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Chinar started a gallery in her rented apartment in Kalyan Nagar ‘Home Sweet Home’. The gallery came into being last year with a group show of works gifted to Chinar by her artist friends. With two shows — one group show and a solo by Alison Byrnes, under her belt, Chinar is now preparing for her third show at her gallery this time by a French photographer Fabien Charuau. The young Gujarati artist had never planned for a gallery but was inspired by similar spaces in the city to do so. “I see my space in conversation with lot of other spaces in Bangalore. People who show here are part of other spaces as well. I don’t like the word ‘alternative’ and I am not really against or for commercial galleries either. But I feel that we need spaces where art can be experienced,” says Chinar, who studied photography design at NID, Ahmedabad. Ask her about the sustainability aspect and Chinar replies, “It is not very difficult to do all of this. I already pay the rent for my house. The artist spends money on the art work. We pool in money for the opening. There are different ways of making art – using xerox, using a cheaper quality of paper…there are different ways of showing. And selling is not important for us. If somebody wants to buy it is between the artist and the buyer. There are no cuts. We also break these set notions about art being exclusive and expensive.” Working on a book, Chinar is now toying with the idea of pop-up galleries in different parts of the country.
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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.
( Read the full article on website )

Fast Forward, Women in Photography features Medusa

Medusa's Affair - Chinar Shah
How does one negotiate desire within the hegemonic rules of love and marriage? When the utterance ‘love’ is barred, if one is denied access to a romantic self, how, then, can one inhabit a relationship with another? When ‘the undesirable’ body and polymorphous sexualities do not exist in language, how can one love in the name of this body?
The full article / photo gallery on Fastforward website >>

Photographs That Challenge Queer & Gender Norms By Indu Antony And Chinar Shah
( Article on website : 13th Oct 2015 )
Photographs That Challenge Queer & Gender Norms By Indu Antony And Chinar Shah
Read the full article on website
Art addas — local style
( Article on The Hindu : Sept 30, 2015 )
Art addas — local style - The Hindu - Bangalore article - September 30, 2015 16:17 IST
Read the full article > Art addas — local style – The Hindu – Bangalore article – September 30, 2015 16:17 IST

Farming Pixels

Chinar remembers sitting in class in what must have been second standard when she learned for the first time that India was an agriculture-based economy. The news came to young Chinar as a surprise for she had never set foot on a farm. Neither was she aware of the importance of farming to the approximated 60% of the population who made their livelihood from the land.
The full article / images on the Forager magazine website >>


We are inviting abstract submissions for an edited collection on photography in India (Editors: Aileen Blaney and Chinar Shah)

India’s rapid urban and rural transformation in recent years is synchronous with changes in photographic practice, with the medium oftentimes being pushed to breaking point in order to talk about the problems of India. Far from the much-hyped death of photography, a new generation of photographers are making images – without precedence in the earlier traditions of documentary and photojournalism practised by their forerunners – that form part of a new terrain of photography in India today. Here and elsewhere, there has been a shift in emphasis from that of taking photographs to making images, from chemistry and light to programming and algorithms. Cameraless photography is gaining ground globally and yet there is renewed demand in countries across Europe and Asia for analogue technology. A subsequent proliferation in the supply of images, allied with an expanded range in image-making technologies and photo-sharing platforms are indicative of the scope of photography in India today, and provide a lens through which to gauge its possible futures. Thoughtful and imaginative exploration of developments and issues related to photography in the context of India is urgently needed so as to connect the field with a level of critical reflection that hitherto has been largely absent.

This publication will open up new dialogues around photography in India, exploring its present and future through a range of theoretical, visual and critical frameworks.

We welcome proposals from scholars, researchers and practitioners that may include but are not limited to the following themes:

  • Incredible India – images producing the nation
  • Vernacular photography in India – from family album to the selfie
  • The right approach to photography in contemporary India
  • Dalit camera
  • Coding behaviour in a time of social media updates
  • Postconflict portraiture: photojournalism’s reenactment of the victim
  • The image and the state: technologies of control
  • Exiled images
  • A poverty of images – NGO portrayals of India
  • The politics of representation: transformations at the level of the national in India today
  • Postdigital landscapes in Indian photography
  • Representing the farmer, the farmhouse and farmlands
  • Food images from the menu card to instagram
  • The digital turn: new expressive possibilities for photography?
  • Photography after photography: the image gone mobile
  • Post-internet photographic practices
  • Reconfigurations of time and space in digital imagery
  • Conceptual and ideological bases of early photography in India
  • Photography and its democratisation in studio portraiture
  • What is the nation in Indian contemporary photography?
  • The gendered camera and censored body
  • Domesticating the porn star
  • The role of the photographic image in contemporary India

If you would like to propose a chapter please send a 750 word abstract and short bio to:
Chinar Shah (photographer and faculty at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology) and Dr Aileen Blaney (Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology)

We have had a number of publishers express interest in the publication and will be able to share details soon. The deadline for receipt of all proposals is 20 June, 2015. We will attempt to notify all correspondents before July 1 regarding the status of their submission. Completed draft manuscripts of 5500-7000 words will be due by December 15, 2015