Democratising the Access to Photography

CJ Clarke talks to us about the upcoming edition of Just Another Photo Festival which will inaugurate on 21 December in Kolkata, India and feature a projection of the PHM 2017 Grant awardees.

Just Another Photo Festival is a a guerrilla photography, film and new media festival that aims to democratise visual media by bringing it back to the world itself and forging new audiences. With the new edition inaugurating this Thursday, 21 December in Kolkata, we talked with co-founder and director CJ Clarke about the motivations behind the project, the importance of showcasing new work, and the projection of the PHM 2017 Grant awardees.

Having been held in Dehli, and then Varanasi, Just Another Photo Festival is now heading to a third major city in India: Kolkata. Why did you choose this city and which public spaces will the festival occupy?

Kolkata has long been on our radar for JAPF. It is city with a long artistic tradition - particularly in the visual arts - from the cinema of Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, for instance. When Ray died in 1992, the whole city turned out as the funeral cortege passed through the city. It would be difficult to think of another city responding so poignantly to the death of a film director.

Kolkata is an extraordinary city to say the least. The character of the place and the people you meet within it. Rich and poor live in close proximity, a diverse audience that make it perfect for JAPF.

A projection from the previous edition held in Varanasi, India © JAPF

Gallerist and curator Carine Dolek has described the festival as "adventurous, daring and militant." How will JAPF/3 live up to this billing?

JAPF dares to dream that there is an audience for photography, for film, for the visual arts in general beyond the confines of the photographic industry we all inhabit and which can sometimes be difficult to see beyond. Militant because we have put these dreams into practice. And daring, perhaps, because of the logistical challenges involved in some of the areas we visit.

In Kolkata we will cross the city in a variety of locations, which certainly won’t have seen this kind of public art before. This is what drives us, a desire to tread new ground and learn from the process.

Your festival is known for its guerrilla style and a program comprised exclusively of projections. Is the same true for Kolkata? What are the highlights of this upcoming edition?

Yes. Again we will be doing projections. In the kind of spaces we visit this is often the most practical method of showing the works. All we need is a project, some speakers and a surface to project on. We like to keep things as simple as possible. Keep the focus on the work and the audience experience.

For JAPF/3 we are excited by our new partnerships as well as having the chance to work once again with our guest curators. We are collaborating again with Robin Hammond to show a selection of ‘Where Love is Illegal’ - a live performance, reading the stories of the people in the photos translated into Bengali.

For instance, new partners such as Focas Scotland, Slideluck Editorial’s ‘Born The Same’ tour and, of course, PHmuseum! We are excited by this New Generation Prize - by the chance to take work by up and coming new photographers. Docu-art projects, through to those with a more traditional approach. The young are not scared of experimenting - Karim El Maktafi’s project, for instance, all taken on his phone, raw black and white - very similar to Trent Parke. Exciting stuff!

A projection from the previous edition held in Varanasi, India © JAPF

In an interview with fellow founder and director, Poulomi Basu, we talked about how JAPF strives to exhibit to people and communities that do not have regular access to such work. How will this edition in Kolkata follow suit? Why do you think is important to pursue this objective?

JAPF was started with a very simple premise born out of our desire as practitioners, that is to be mass communicators. As photographers and filmmakers we want speak to the widest possible audience and why should we limit this audience to elites or to those who are already know how to access museums or live in areas where public art occurs frequently?

By taking this work off the beaten track to communities and locations where such screenings never occur, we are very much keeping with our mantra to take photography to the people.

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CJ Clarke is an award winning filmmaker, producer and photographer. He is co-founder and director of Just Another Photo Festival.

Just Another Photo Festival is a guerrilla photography, film and new media festival that democratises visual media by bringing it back to the world itself and forging new audiences. Learn more at www.japf.xyz and follow them on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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