Chennai Photo Biennale

Chennai Photo Biennale is founded and organised by the CPB Foundation and Goethe-Institut Chennai, and is dedicated to promoting the photographic art form across demographics. The CPB Foundation's primary focus area is photography education and discourse that takes place through year-round photo education programs. This activity culminates in a city-wide public-art photography festival at the end of every two years that becomes a platform to showcase and an opportunity to network with international, national and local artists and curators. For over 60 years, the GoetheInstitut Chennai has been promoting an ongoing dialogue and exchange between Indian and German artists and experts in order to present German culture abroad and help shape a current understanding of Germany today. The program department organizes a broad range of events and supports projects in the fields of visual arts, performing arts and more. 

This would have been the month, CPB Foundation opened the 3rd Edition of the Chennai Photo Biennale, but the world seems to have shifted on its axis this year and a tough decision to postpone the biennale to December 2021 was made. But this has only fortified the Foundation’s vision to create accessible forums to collectively view, think, introspect, dialogue and act on the contemporary realities. So, even as the curatorial team - of Arko Datto, Bhooma Padmanabhan, Boaz Levin and Kerstin Meincke - is navigating the current sea of uncertainty to ideate on these forums, the team at CPB Edition III wanted to mark this month with the first reveal of the plans for next year.

Titled Maps of Disquiet, the Biennale will reflect on the exigencies of our times: resisting majoritarian impositions, ecological collapse, and technological dystopias by reclaiming pluralities of thought, voices, and art, and building new networks of solidarity and care. The site of the 'Great Trigonometrical Survey' of 1802, the first colonial attempt to measure and map the subcontinent, Chennai today is an arena of contested visions of a common future that resonates beyond. Anchoring itself in Chennai, the biennale will delve into the invisible realms of power and knowledge that shape our global present while simultaneously proposing the creation of resistant cartographies. It asks, whose resources? Whose rivers? Whose interests? Whose voices? Whose images? 

The biennale brings together artists and practices that explore the representation of labour, urban imaginaries, the commons, economic and migratory flows, archaeology and mining, and what anthropologist Arjun Appadurai, describing growing hostility towards minorities across the world, refers to as a ‘fear of small numbers.’ The first list of artists to showcase this year will include, Andreas Langfeld, Babu Eshwar Prasad, Gauri Gill, Hito Steyerl, Katrin Koenning. Lieko Shiga, Lisa Rave, Mohini Chandra, Nico Joana Weber, Rohini Devasher, Rory Pilgrim, Sanchayan Ghosh, Saranraj, Senthil Kumaran, Siva Sai Jeevanantham, Soumya Sankar Bose, Susanne Kriemann, Tobias Zielony, Vamika Jain, Vasudha Thozhur, and Yuvan Aves. 

Chennai Photo Biennale Edition III will open in December 2021. Catch the First Look – CPB Edition III video here. For additional information and news updates, visit, Edition III website - or follow @chennaiphotobiennale on Instagram and Facebook to stay tuned for updates. 

17th April, 2021 Visual Art | Photography