Personal History as a City Portrait

Sabeena Gadihoke, Paromita Vohra and Ayisha Abraham  |  6 March 2016  |  Bengaluru

This conversation looks at urban narratives that get formed out of personal histories, through three distinct image-making practices. Sabeena Gadihoke will present explorations of urban space in Bombay and Delhi in the 1950s and 60s through the work of Homai Vyarawalla – India’s first woman press photographer. Paromita Vohra will talk about her television series ‘Connected Hum Tum’, where Mumbai women discuss their lives and preoccupations by making video-diaries. Ayisha Abraham will discuss found-footage practice where personal, often intimate images acquire significant meaning over time and become a record of culture.

Panelists:
Paromita Vohra

Paromita Vohra is a filmmaker and writer, whose work has been widely screened at festivals and museums worldwide. Her films as director are Morality TV and the Loving Jehad: A Thrilling Tale) a documentary on moral policing and tabloid culture set in Meerut, Q2P, a film about public toilets and the vision of the global city, which was awarded the Best Documentary Award at the IFFLA and Stuttgart festivals, besides being exhibited at the Tate Modern,Where’s Sandra?, a film about sexual and community stereotyping of Christian women, Work In Progress (2004) about the World Social Forum which took place in Bombay in 2004),  Cosmopolis: Two Tales of A City (2004), a film that probes the myth of Bombay’s cosmopolitanism through the politics of land and food,(Award for Best Film Indo-British Digital Film Festival),  Unlimited Girls (2001), an exploration of what feminism means to different people in urban India (Women’s News Award, Seoul Film Festival; Best Film, Aaina Film Festival, Best Documentary, Bollywood and Beyond, 2004), A Woman’s Place (1998), a film about women’s legal strategies in India, South Africa and the USA (for PBS), Annapurna: Goddess of Food (1995) about an organization of women food workers in Bombay’s textile mill area which has been broadcast in 10 countries and A Short Film About Timei (1999) a short fiction about a woman with a broken heart, her therapist and his watch.

Her films as a writer includes the feature films Silent Waters, about a woman whose life is transformed by growing fundamentalism in a Pakistani village (Dir: Sabiha Sumar), (Best Screenplay Award, Kara Film Festival, Best Film, Locarno Film Festival) and Khamoshi:The Musical (Additional Scriptwriting) (dir: Sanjay Leela Bhansali); the documentaries Skin Deep, A Few Things I Know About Her (Silver Conch, MIFF 2002, National Award for Best Documentary, 2002) and If You Pause: In a Museum of Craft.

She writes extensively for print, both fiction and non-fiction, including a fortnightly column for the Mumbai Mirror. She teaches scriptwriting as visiting faculty at various universities and has done considerable work with young people with a focus on radio.

Ayisha Abraham

Ayisha Abraham, is an experimental visual artist based in Bangalore and has for many years worked with amateur film footage. She has explored and expanded dormant and found 8mm family made, home movies, by using different forms to tell a series of ‘film tales’, located in the histories of untold and mundane lives.

Her work incorporates single or multiple channel films, along with other media for gallery installation’s. Some of the accompanying objects in her exhibitions, have been artist’s book’s, sound pieces; binding wire, paper and plaster cast sculptures; painted or silkscreened surfaces etc.


She received her B.F.A. in Painting at the MS University, Baroda, India, in 1987. In 1991 she participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program, New York City. In 1995 she completed her M.F.A. at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. She has had several solo exhibitions in New York and India, as well as being exhibited in numerous group shows. In September 2005 her film ‘Straight 8’ was screened at the Srishti exhibition at Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria. In 2005 she was an invited artist at the Khoj residency in Mumbai. Her short film ‘One Way’, was screened at the Directors Fortnight at Cannes, May 2007 as a part of a commissioned project titled State of the World . She has shown her films at numerous contemporary art museums such as the Serpentine in London (2009), Center Pompidou in Paris (2011),  Yerba Buena in San Fransisco (2012) and more recently at the Devi Art Foundation in New Delhi (2013), and the Max Mueller Bhavan Bangalore(2015) among other venues.
She is a member of the Bangalore Artists Collective, BAR1, and has worked as an instructor at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore since 1997.

Sabeena Gadihoke

Sabeena Gadihoke is Associate Professor of Video Production at the AJK MCRC at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She started her career as an independent documentary filmmaker and cameraperson. Her film Three Women and a Camera won awards at Film South Asia at Kathmandu (1999) and the Mumbai International Film Festival (2000). She was a Fulbright Fellow at Syracuse University during 1995-6 and has published widely. Her book on India’s first woman press photographer Homai Vyarawalla, Camera Chronicles of Homai Vyarawalla (Mapin/ Parzor Foundation) was published in 2006. Gadihoke has curated several shows on photography including a retrospective of Homai Vyarawalla at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi, Bombay and Bangalore during 2010-11. Her research interests focus on the intersection of the still and moving image and she has written on contemporary documentary films, photo history, popular visual culture and female stardom in Bombay cinema