PondyPHOTO 2016: Second edition of PondyPHOTO to focus on WATER

Crowd funding from June 1 to fund 16-day public art initiative to be held in Pondicherrry’s Old Port
Participants include photojournalist Pablo Bartholomew, environmentalist-artist Ravi Agarwal and former photo director, Telegraph magazine, Cheryl Newman
PondyPHOTO, a biennial festival which aims to build awareness on social and environmental issues through visually impactful photography in public spaces, is back with its second edition in August-September 2016. The theme of PondyPHOTO 2016 is of pressing relevance- WATER.
Starting June 1, the organizers, PondyART Foundation, will unveil the itinerary of events and list of participants for the festival that kicks off on August 27. Announcements will be made on a daily basis on all social media channels of the organization and on pondyphoto.com. The 16-day festival will showcase photographs by over 30 award-winning international photographers, documentary and feature film screenings, performances, forums and short workshops. A festival of this scale is made entirely possible with generous support from the fields of arts and environment, both at local and national levels. A unique crowdfunding campaign on generosity.com is also being launched on June 1 where individuals can sign up to partner with this landmark event.
The Space: Old Port
While the Old Distillery was the venue of the previous edition, the 5 acre Old Port on the southern end of the boulevard is this year’s primary venue. The Government has permitted the organizers to utilize the generally off-limits Old Port recognizing its spatial and emotional appeal to the people of Pondicherry. By visually transforming a centrally located space with limited accessibility, PondyPHOTO 2016 once again makes it possible for the public to experience and explore a once-frequented local landmark.
Theme: WATER
This year’s initiative titled WATER, is foregrounded in the various water-related disasters that we have witnessed in the past year. Today, climate change, economic development and increasing human demands are visibly altering water bodies, marking seasons more dramatically, affecting wildlife and human condition, and forcing change. Natural instincts and emotions usually associated with the long-awaited rains are now often superseded by anxiety and fear as waters rise or don’t arrive at all.
“While individuals, organizations and government are making efforts to educate the public about the issues that surround water and its consumption, much more needs to be done,” says Kasha Vande, director of the festival. PondyPHOTO 2016 seeks to augment these efforts by bringing photographers and artists together to share the Indian sub-continent’s water stories, both of the past and of the present, and asking change makers to share methods of conserving this extraordinarily important resource. The festival will also initiate community involvement through an extensive youth outreach program; civic forums will also work on building awareness and initiating positive behavior change at the grass root level.
Special Focus: December 2015 floods
The festival was rescheduled from the original date in February to accommodate a special focus on the unprecedented effect of the South Indian floods of December 2015. The human experience during the floods and the challenges that remain in its aftermath will be assessed from varying perspectives –artistic, scientific, journalistic- and presented as a group project in an attempt to provide a comprehensive response to the human, ethical and political questions that have risen in the wake of the disaster.
People behind the initiative
By bringing together photographers, artists, performers and filmmakers from over 20 countries, the festival aims to provide a platform for the public to experience art in their own space, on their own terms. An exhibition, ‘the kitchen sink’ curated by Cheryl Newman, former Photography Director of the Telegraph magazine, London, will be a highlight of the festival. Several reputed organizations including internationally renowned environmental agency, Toxics Link, long-established institutions like the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP), cultural organizations like the Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art and Alliance Francaise, as well as community-based societies like the Sri Aurobindo Ashram are working closely with the advisory committee to make PondyPHOTO an international standard event with its own unique identity on scale with the Delhi Photo Festival and other international photography platforms. The advisory board constitutes Kasha Vande, and renowned photographers Ravi Agarwal, Pablo Bartholomew, Nicolas Chorier, Yannick Cormier, and Waswo X. Waswo.
About PondyART: Pondy ART is an initiative created in December 2012 by Kasha Vande and supported by Yannick Cormier and S. Muthu Krishnan to get art out there to the public. Now a registered Trust, PondyART Foundation calls attention to issues that challenge India through large scale exhbitions while breaking exhibition conventions and experimenting with venue, material, lighting, scale and presentation. PondyART Trustees include Padma Shri winner, Pablo Bartholomew and corporate manager, Thomas Cherian.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016