Opportunities > Chennai Photo Biennale - residency call for South Asian origin photographers
31 Aug 2019

Chennai Photo Biennale - residency call for South Asian origin photographers

Call for applications from photographers for a residency program organised by Chennai Photo Bienniale on the theme - Reimagining the family portrait. 

  • Residency is open only to practising lens-based artists and photographers of South Asian origin across the world (South Asian Countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka)
  • Applicants can submit proposals for existing projects they are working on or new ideas on family portraiture they plan to work on. 

Important Dates

  • Call for proposals open Aug 1, 2019
  • Application Deadline Aug 31, 2019 by 11:59 PM IST 
  • Announcement of selected participants Sep 15, 2019


The making of a family photo until the mid-20th century was an extraordinary once in a lifetime event. It was often created in a studio, subjects were lent clothes and accessories and the photograph was sometimes hand-painted to colour or embellished with gold/silver for a richer look. Setting the models, the frame, the lens was a long process and the result was nothing like an instantaneous click on the spot. 

Family photos are an essential testimony of the way of life of a given period of time. They inform on the social status of the subject family, the event for which the photo was taken, the selection of family members displayed in the photo. The sociological background of the group is reflected in the print. The family was often depicted in a way to figure the social group that was by then considered as ideal. The usual family patterns have been married couples with children, sometimes along with the grandparents. The group that is now considered to be a family is no longer with the same cast. On the photographer's side, the information lies on his social status, on the image he reworks on to adjust the result to his own and the client's expectations.

This project invites photographers and lens-based artists to reimagine the Family Portrait by establishing the transition from the accepted definition of 'the family' to what it represents today. With support from the Franco-German Cultural Fund, the Alliance Française of Madras, Goethe-Institut/ Max Mueller Bhavan Chennai and the Chennai Photo Biennale Foundation invite submissions from artists and image practitioners who seek to reflect on the “Modern Family representation” in their work and documentary practices. In any case, an exploration of innovative ways of looking at socio-cultural and ethnographic histories, value-systems and current familial equations from different sections of society, including your own, is particularly encouraged. 

This is an open call for proposals on the theme ‘Reimagining the Family Portrait’ - the proposals can be a work-in-progress or proposed ideas for a new project. A team of experts from France, Germany and India respectively will be mentoring 8-10 selected applicants from the ideation stage and guide them through the direction each project will take forward. 

The residency will be conducted within the period September - November 2019 in two phases with three mentors, some of it as live sessions in Chennai and the remainder of it remotely via skype and email. 

  • Photography Mentor: Martine Fougeron / France | USA
  • Zine designer-mentor: Markus Dreßen / Germany
  • Multimedia Mentor: 13 Jara Collective / India


Phase 1: 

  • Sep 27 - Oct 5, 2019: Live Sessions With Martine Fougeron in Chennai

Phase 2:

  • Nov 1 - 3, 2019 Live Session With Martine Fougeron
  • Nov 4 - 10, 2019: Workshop on Zine Making with Markus Dreßen
  • Nov 11 - 17, 2019: Workshop on Multimedia with 13Jara Collective

Residency Grant

Each participant will be allotted a total grant of INR 40,000 towards travel, accommodation and required research. Attendance is mandatory for both phases of the residency.