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Anita Khemka and Imran Kokiloo

Switzerland | Visual Arts

June 2022 — Visual Arts

Anita Khemka (b. 1972) studied English Literature at Delhi University and Visual Merchandising at La Salle, Singapore before she decided to become a photographer in 1996. She has closely followed the lives of socially marginalized and excluded groups and communities — abandoned widows, people with intellectual disability, addictions, HIV and AIDS, political minorities, sexual and gender minorities.  Her work dealing with alternative sexuality was made into a German film, Between the Lines – India’s Third Gender in 2005. Following three hijras (eunuchs), she entered the vibrant yet struggling hijra communities, openly discussing many intimate details of their lives. Her project, Sweet Sixteen (2006), portraits of sixteen-year-olds are included in a book, IMAGINING OURSELVES: Global Voices from a New Generation of Women. The series, Self-Portraits has been included in a group exhibition, Watching Me, Watching India at the Fotografie Forum International, Frankfurt (2006), in the Photoquai Biennale at the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris (2007), The Self and The Other – Portraiture in Contemporary Indian Photography for the Palau de la Virrenina and Artium in Spain, Where Three Dreams Cross: 150 years of photography from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh at White Chapel, London (2009), at Samtidigt (Concurrent India) — presenting artists with roots in India and Pakistan at the Kulturhuset, Stockholm, and Helsinki (2010/11) amongst others. Her work titled Laxmi (2003-ongoing) is currently on exhibit at the Asian Arts Museum in Nice (2022).

Khemka headed the photography department at the Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communication (SACAC) from August 2015 until February 2019 and is currently engaged with The MurthyNAYAK Foundation as a researcher to work on PhotoSouthAsia, a site dedicated to South Asian Photography practices. She started working in collaboration with her partner Imran Kokiloo in 2017 and is represented by PHOTOINK. The duo has been invited for an Art Residency program in June 2022 by Verzasca Foto, supported by Pro Helvetia.

Imran B Kokiloo (b. 1978) is a lens-based artist from India. His first body of work produced in collaboration with Anita Khemka titled Pellet Identity was exhibited at FotoFest, Houston (2018) and a print from the series is now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. He has since continued to work on Kashmir, which he defines as his lifelong endeavour. This work was shortlisted for the Grand Prix Images Vevey, Switzerland (2019). His interest in analogue and vintage processes has enabled him to produce a series of large-format pinhole photographs titled Kashmir: A memory in mist as well as a collection of ambrotypes of fellow artists.

Kokiloo’s collaborative work made during the global COVID pandemic, titled Shared Solitude was exhibited at PHOTOINK, New Delhi (2021). His own family portrait from this series was shortlisted for the Ruth Borchard Collection Prize (2021). His installation work made in collaboration with his partner, titled Kashmir: I hope they serve beer in hell is being shown at the Landskrona Foto Festival (2022). Another installation titled Protest was a part of a group show and publication titled Celebrate, Illuminate, Rejuvenate the Constitution of India at 70 for SAHMAT, Delhi (2020). A cyanotype print made especially for Hum Sab Sahmat: Resisting a Nation without Citizens will form a part of a year-long exhibition organized by SAHMAT, to commemorate the 75th year of Indian Independence (2022). He, along with his partner was nominated for the Magnum Foundation Counter Histories Grant (2022). The duo has been invited for an Art Residency program in June 2022 by Verzasca Foto, supported by Pro Helvetia.

Kokiloo is currently working on two bodies of work dealing with reverse migration from urban centers to more natural environs as well as collaborating with the artist Vivan Sundaram for his upcoming work made for the Sharjah Biennial 2023. He lives in Nainital with his partner Anita Khemka and their two girls.

See more about their research trip here.

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