Open Call for Lens-Based Artists from India and Wales

Open call Closed! 

Update: Awardees

The shortlist included 12 applicants from both India and Wales and the jury voted in favour of 5 artist proposals instead of the original plan of 4 where each artist will receive a grant of 1500 GBP over a period of 6 months to work on their proposed projects.

Read about the awardees and their projects here.

Over the last few weeks of reflection, debates, discussions and interviews on many potent proposals, we are pleased to announce the shortlist for our first collaboration with the Diffusion Festival/Ffotogallery - the Imagining the Nation state Grant!

We are deeply grateful to Damarice Amao, Monica Narula and Sheba Chhachhi for sharing their insights and helping us through a very tough selection from a large pool of talented artists!

We would also like to share our appreciation for everyone who took out the time and effort to apply for the grant. It is important for you to know that your ideas have opened up our minds to the diverse notions of nation state  - the significance of this theme in the current times is known to all. We are trying to see if there is an opportunity to have a further dialogue on your work. 

Congratulations to all shortlisted applicants and good luck for the next round as we prepare to announce the finalists very soon!


The applications will be reviewed by a three-member jury comprising of accomplished artists and historians from India and France.  

Monica Narula | Raqs Media Collective

Raqs Media Collective was formed in 1992 in Delhi, India by Monica Narula, Jeebesh Bagchi and Shuddhabrata Sengupta. The word ?raqs? in several languages denotes an intensification of awareness and presence attained by whirling, turning, being in a state of revolution. Raqs Media Collective takes this sense to mean ?kinetic contemplation? and a restless entanglement with the world, and with time. Raqs enlists objects like an early-modern tiger-automata from Southern India, or a biscuit from the Paris Commune, or a cup salvaged from an ancient Mediterranean shipwreck, to turn them into devices to sniff and taste time. Devices are deployed in order to undertake historical subterfuge and philosophical queries. Raqs practices across several media; making installation, sculpture, video, performance, text, lexica and curation. They are developing sources around toxicity, care, and luminosity of friendship with artists, and publics, for the ongoing Yokohama Triennale (2020).

Sheba Chhachhi

Sheba Chhachhi is an artist, writer and activist with feminist and ecological concerns at the core of her work. Chhachhi articulates a range of concerns through her lens-based work including gender, ecology, violence, urbanization and visual cultures, with a particular emphasis on the recuperation of cultural memory. She began in the 1980s, both activist and photographer, documenting the women?s movement in India. By the 1990s, Chhachhi had moved to creating collaborative staged photographs, eventually turning to large photo based multimedia installations. Chhachhi creates immersive environments, bringing the contemplative into the political in both site-specific public art and independent works. She has exhibited widely in India and abroad; She lives and works in New Delhi.

Damarice Amao

Damarice AMAO is an art historian (PhD) and the Assistant curator of photography at the Centre Pompidou, Mus?e national d?art moderne, Paris. She specialized in twentieth avant-garde European photography and has curated numerous exhibitions with accompanying catalogues including Jacques-Andr? Boiffard (2014), Eli Lotar (2017), Photographie, arme de classe [Photography, as a class weapon](2018) and Dora Maar (2019).


Chennai Photo Biennale Foundation in collaboration with the Diffusion Festival-Wales with the support of the British Council and Wales Arts International announces the Open Call for a grant for resident photographers and lens based artists from India and Wales to submit proposals on the theme - IMAGINING THE NATION STATE. 


This collaboration enables a total of four grant awards - to two Indian and two Welsh photographers/lens-based artists for the production of work on the basis of proposals submitted through the open call. The works produced by the four artists will be exhibited at the next Diffusion festival in 2021. The work is also likely to be showcased at a subsequent edition of Chennai Photo Biennale on the basis of available funding and further grant support.



It is somewhat of a paradox that at a time when individuals are more globally connected than ever before, the idea of ?nationhood? remains a powerful unifying force for people. 


Could it be that the idea of one?s national identity is defined by a common language, history and culture is at odds with the complex, pluralistic and ever-changing state of nations?


Is the term ?nation state? simply an outmoded and divisive construct around which people and land are organised, or does it have a contemporary relevance?


Can we create a new, inclusive vision of nationhood compatible with our global responsibilities?


How do we ensure that a nation?s innovations, cultural forms, wealth and resources are harnessed for the common good, not just for the benefit of those living within its borders?


There is often one nation state, but there are many imaginations of the nation state depending on where one is speaking from.


Photographers/lens based artists are invited to engage with these and many such questions in the process of producing ongoing, current and relevant imaginations of the idea of the nation state. Specific to such efforts must be an active conceptualization of both sameness and difference, in relation to what is understood to be the template of the nation-state. To this extent, artists might choose to work with many modalities including but not limited to narrative, materiality, symbolism, phenomenology, fantasy, event, and contingency. At the heart of submissions, must be a willingness for conceptual experimentation and a spirit of critique.


*Concept note development: Mathangi Krishnamurthy, David Drake, Chennai Photo Biennale Foundation

Chennai Photo Biennale Foundation and its Welsh partner Diffusion: Cardiff International Festival of Photography (a biennial event curated and run by Ffotogallery Wales) were collectively awarded the The British Council Connections through Culture: India-Wales 2020 grant which has made this project possible.



The theme for the grant submissions is ?Imagining the Nation State? and invites proposals from resident photographers and lens-based artists in India and Wales, with special encouragement to female/female identifying practitioners.



Applicants must be a resident of either of the two countries


Applicant is of non-Indian or non-Welsh origin and has concurrent resident permits from 2015 of either of the two countries valid at least till Dec 2021.


The grant amount being awarded is 1500 GBP per artist and will be issued to the awardee in four parts - the details of which will be emailed to the awardee upon selection and announcement.


Shortlisted applicants will be announced 10 days prior to the final award. The jury will be doing video interviews with the shortlisted candidates to arrive at their final decision.


The grant is given to four independent artists towards the production of four bodies of works - two from India and two from Wales. Selected work will be new or a development of a body of work under production, but not yet realised in exhibition form.


The grant will also consider if two artists would like to apply as a team offering two interconnected/conjoined proposals (for instance, one proposal supplementing the other, or one could be a photo-based work and the other a video work).


The four awardees can choose to work independently or collaborate with each other and take their projects forward.


In support of their proposal, applicants should submit an ongoing body of work or have a folio of work from a similar genre to supplement their written proposal.


No single-image works will be considered for the grant. Your submission should be a series from one body of work/project. 


The grant is towards the production of the work and should include a reasonable fee for the artist. Every proposal will be required to present a detailed timeline and how the artist intends to spend the grant amount on the basis the production timeline.


Exhibition/presentation costs, including printing, framing, installation, invigilation and interpretation, will be determined and met by the curating organisations, subject to available resources.  


In consultation with the artists, work created and submitted will be used for promoting the grant via social media, newsletters, video and traditional media. Awarded artists will be expected to provide material from their project and remain available for interviews with the media and with CPB Foundation and Diffusion/Ffotogallery social platforms. The organisers' and granters' websites will also serve as a portal for collating the processes and outcome of the entire project.


Exhibition of final works at either Diffusion 2021 or CPB will be designed basis available funding and venues in conversation with artists. 


By applying to this grant, applicants implicitly agree to abide by the grant terms and conditions and keep to timelines specified. Failure to reach milestones or participate in follow up communication may result in withdrawal of further grant funding.

Should the production of the work require more time and the artist-awardee is unable to meet the deadline due to health reasons or unforeseen circumstances, the artist should contact the grants committee immediately on [email protected]


  • Open call announcement ? June 15, 2020

  • Application deadline: September 30, 2020

  • Shortlist announcement - 25 October, 2020

  • Announcement of 4 finalists + virtual announcement ceremony : Last week of October 2020

  • Period to produce work: 15 November 2020 ? 15 May 2021

  • Final presentation of works to jury - 22 May 2021

  • Virtual Public presentation with Jurors + CPBF + Diffusion of the works produced and discussion - 29 May 2021

  • Diffusion: Cardiff International Festival of Photography: Launch event Sep/Oct 2021

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