Sithara Sarangan was curious to know about Kashmir and its people. After the lockdown relaxations, she took a six-day solo trip to Kashmir and travelled extensively through Pahalgam, Srinagar, Margan Top and Anantnag and captured breathtaking pictures of Kashmir and the people there.
Back in Chennai, she is hosting a fundraising photography exhibition at Art Houz, Nungambakkam. Titled Reimagining The Valley, the photography exhibition features the picturesque landscapes of the Kashmir valley, intertwined with the spirit of the valley itself: its people. “I never thought of exhibiting the photographs from the trip. But after I returned to Chennai, I wanted to narrate the story of Kashmiris through photographs. Usually, the first image that comes to our mind when we say Kashmir would be the snowcapped mountains. But the true essence of a place lies in its people as much as it does in its soil. This exhibition follows the everyday lives of Kashmiris and seeks to portray how they act as sentinels for the fragile yet stunning ecosystem. With this trip, I have understood people’s emotions and sentiments. Since it was a solo trip, I got to interact with a lot of people and got to know their political sentiments and social problems they face,” says Sithara Sarangan about her maiden photography exhibition.
Sithara adds that she wanted to convey the life of Kashmiris through photographs. “Part of the proceeds from the exhibition will go as a contribution to an NGO in Kashmir, ELFA International which works with the local communities in the area of Jammu and Kashmir, providing support for access to education, livelihood, sustainable living, and menstrual hygiene for women. I feel there is a bit of disconnect when it comes to people and issues of Kashmir. I hope the exhibit will help to bridge that disconnect. I wanted to get the conversation started in Chennai - a lot of people have come forward to support the cause. The abolition of Article 370 and the pandemic have economically affected the lives of Kashmiris, and that is another reason for this exhibition,” she adds.
The photography exhibition Reimagining The Valley is on till November 7 at Art Houz, Nungambakkam.