New York City Experiments

I arrive in New York in a few days to try out a new experiment. It has been a few years in the making, and it has taken a few months of find funding for it. But now it is ready to be performed. The Polis Project‘s first Un/Do-Photography workshop will start in New York on November 13th, 2019. And it represents the latest version of a practice of photographic teaching that I have been working on since 2013 when I first tried a new pedagogic practice at CounterFoto in Dhaka, Bangladesh. These workshops are unique because they are less about the practice, craft and mechanics of operating photography technology and primarily about deconstructing social, political and economic assumptions and myths that underlie so much of today’s mainstream photojournalism and photography practice. The Polis Project Un/Do-Photography workshops specifically engage the students on questions of Eurocentrism, imperialism/colonialism, capitalism, commodity fetishism, femo/homo-nationalism, the ‘gaze’ and power, the myths of Western liberalism, technology utopianism, humanitarian racism among other topics. Our goal, unlike any other workshop out there, is to produce critically aware, and intellectually outspoken photographers producing complex, multimedia projects that refuse the easy comforts of mainstream corporate owned media, and pursue complex projects that challenge us to see deeper and clearly. 


Read More

The First Un / Do-Photography Workshop Announced

We at The Polis Project are conducting our first ‘Decolonise Photography’ workshop in New York, from 19th to 23rd November, 2019. You can learn more about them by going to the link shown above, or here.  The workshops are open to all. And they are completely free.  Over the course of five intensive days of […]

America The Beautiful And The Dreams of Pakistani Liberals

We have become accustomed to certain ways of seeing and speaking about the world. The Pakistani liberal – a caste that has been educated and nurtured on Western educational, political and cultural ideologies absorbed during years abroad at college, or careers, and through popular Western visual and literary media (fiction, non-fiction books), offers a particularly […]

A Man In The Sun

This is an essay without reason. It emerges as a result of recent discussions with a friend and colleague about decolonialisation–what it means, how does it apply to various areas of human knowledge, and what can it mean for photography. Actually, this essay without reason emerges as a result of discussions at The Polis Project […]

Rebel Cities: The Anti-Colonial Imagination & The Dilemmas of the Present

At the end of 2011 I stopped making photographs. I did not stop working as a photographer, but I stopped making the kinds of photographs I was making in India. Those were very special photographs. From 2009 to 2011, my work on The Idea of India project, had been nothing short of a deeply ecstatic, emotional and […]

From Headman To Hitman

Another photographer turns up at another recently manufactured ‘traditional’ culture, and produces yet another set of racist, reductive and entirely fake images. I don’t mean ‘fake’ in the way that most photographer’s get all concerned about. I mean ‘fake’ in a much more serious way, one that reduces people to social, political and historical caricatures […]

The Performance Of ‘Democracy’

The elections went off without a hitch. The polling stations opened on time, the people walked, waiting and cast their ballots. The observers and monitors performed their responsibilities. The election commission provided all the necessary facilities, services, support, guidance, training and management needed to complete the process. Civic groups remained vigilant, and some like Le Balai […]

A Revolution Or A Revolving Door?

In November 2015, months after the ouster of Blaise Campaoré, the people of Burkina Faso elected Roch Marc Christian Kaboré as President. And whereas mainstream international and local media hailed the success as a result of a ‘people’s uprising’, led by the charismatic and photogenic rappers and musicians of Le Balai Citoyen, the ascendence of Kaboré […]

Imperialism Is In The Food You Eat

’Where is imperialism?’Look at your plates when you eat. These imported grains of rice, corn, and millet – that is imperialism. Thomas Sankara “He would come on a bicycle. You could see him cycling down the main street, dressed in uniform, arriving to inspect the work.” Salvador Sylvan beams as me tells me this. Sankara’s […]

An Odyssey Towards Respect–Art Melody’s Search For Freedom

Art Melody asks that we meet on his small plot of vegetable farm land on the outskirts of Ouagadougou. “It is where I go to do my writing.” He tells me in his gruff voice. “Where I feel most free.” When I arrive for our scheduled meetings, I see him, and his friends Jacques, ankle […]