Chennai Photo Biennale

2nd edition Biennale Dates: Feb 22 – Mar 24  2019

Chennai Photo Biennale is an international festival of photography held across several historical, art and public venues in the city, organized by the CPB Foundation, a non-profit foundation, in cooperation with Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Chennai. Besides exhibitions in public and private spaces, there will be an international seminar, workshops, film screenings, talks and performances. This will be a premier visual art event and a benchmark in the cultural scene of Chennai and India. While the first edition made a mark, the 2nd edition will be more ambitious in content. The Biennale was founded in 2016 by photographer Varun Gupta and Helmut Schippert,  Director Goethe-Institut Chennai.

The second edition is slated for Feb 22 – Mar 24, 2019 and the artistic director and curator of CPB 2019 is Pushpamala N, an internationally recognised photo and video artist, sculptor, performer, writer and curator. As one of the pioneers of conceptual art in India, she is known for her strong feminist work, her rejection of authenticity and embracing of multiple realities. Starting her career as a narrative sculptor, she began working in staged photography and photo-performance in the mid- 1990s and has been a major influence on the photography scene in the country.

Her richly layered and inventive work uses the idea of cultural memory to explore contemporary society with irony and wit. She exhibits widely in India and abroad in solo shows, biennales and museum shows. Her work has been collected by major museums and is taught in universities internationally. She often speaks at conferences and her writing has been published in respected journals and books. She lives in Bengaluru, India.

Curatorial concept for CPB 2019 by Pushpamala N

“As artist curator, I have decided not to have a single overarching theme but to have a loose theme for each venue, sometimes site-specific, around which there are group works that resonate with each other. My larger curatorial concept is to ruminate on the nature of photography in a poetic and philosophical way. The provisional title of the Biennale – Fauna of Mirrors – is an old Chinese myth that talks about an alternate universe that exists behind the mirror; another dimension which is home to unknown creatures. I will argue around the myth to see the practice of photography as a mirror reflection of modern life, creating a parallel world of images- familiar yet strange, perhaps friendly and intimate, sometimes mysterious and hostile – but always magical.”

Global representation

Cultural institutions in Chennai and India are seeing this as an excellent opportunity to bring in home talent to be showcased at CPB 2019 and have offered participation and support towards representing artists from their respective countries. These include US Consul General Chennai, Inko Centre, British Council Chennai, Australian Consulate Chennai, Pro-Helvetia Delhi and Japan Foundation Delhi.

International conference of photography

CPB 2019 is also going to host an international conference on photography where curators and scholars will be invited from different countries including India to come and present papers on the current state of photography. The conference will be held over a period of 2-3 days at the beautiful Museum Theatre in Egmore.

Photojournalism Award

The Hindu is instituting and unveiling an exclusive Photojournalism Award in India in association with CPB. Photographers from India and international photographers who are resident Indians can submit published works. Announcement and submissions to open soon.

Outreach & Education

This next edition will also see a grassroots outreach program with students of both schools and colleges interested in the visual arts through workshops, talks and mentorships, which has already begun from January 2018. Check – We are seeking partners to take the education plan ahead.

Photography and the City

One of our key endeavors for this edition is to search deep into treasure troves of the city’s many photographic archives. CPB is working with The Hindu’s 140 year old archive as well as the archives of Roja Muthiah Research Library.

Making CPB 2019 a reality!

Currently we are raising funds to make this exciting festival into one of the most iconic photography festivals in Chennai and India. We are looking for other institutions and individuals to become stakeholders and permanent patrons of the Biennale, which is going to be marked on Chennai’s cultural calendar every two years. In that measure, CPB 2019 is actively urging Government of Tamil Nadu to back and support this initiative, just as Kerala government has supported Kochi Muziris
Biennale, that has transformed Kochi and put it on the international map. Chennai Photo Biennale is aiming to do the same for Chennai and make it the home for photography in India.


CPB has recently launched its Crowdfunding campaign and has successfully got over 40 dedicated Campaign Owners who will help raise funds for the biennale. Over the course of 5 days we have touched 4L! You too can contribute to our campaign and play a significant role in making CPB 2019 a huge success. Write to us at if you would like to become a campaign owner and for those wanting to contribute click here –

Connect and contribute to CPB 2019:

• Become a CPB Member – Ask for the membership form.
• Donate – Donate funds. Donate time. Donate Skill-sets. Donate work.
• Volunteer – Come volunteer with CPB and be part of our exciting plans for 2019!
• Participate – Come attend our event, participate in workshops, conduct workshops, host an evening
• Share – Share about CPB and our crowdfunding within your circles!


Senate House – University of Madras
Government College of Fine Art
Egmore Museum
Madras Literary Society
Roja Muthiah Research Library
Chennai Central Station
MRTS (various)
Woodlands Cinema

We are currently seeking permissions for Kasimedu Fishing Harbour, Marina Housing Board, Gandhi Mandapam and some parks in the city. There will be an engagement with private galleries as well for some showcases.

Partners (as on date):

CPB Foundation & Goethe Institut Chennai – Organising partners
The Hindu – Associate Partner
SPI Cinemas – Public Impact and activation partner
Rubecon – Creative Partner
Smudge – Design Partner
Grid – Workspace partner
Triple O – Architecture partner
HSB Partners – Legal Partner

For any media queries please email Shuchi Kapoor at

Image-set for CPB 2019 –


Aishwarya Arumbakkam (India)
Angela Grauerholz (Canada)
Anna Fox (UK)
Armin Linke (Germany)
Arpan Mukherjee (India)
Arun Vijai Mathavan (India)
Balaji Maheshwar (India)
Chan Hyo Bae (Korea)
Cop Shiva (India)
Dayanita Singh (India)
Desire Machine Collective (India)
D. Ravinder Reddy (India)
Gauri Gill (India)
J H Thakker (India)
Jason Shulman (UK)
Kowshik Vasudevan (India)
Liz Fernando (Germany)
Manit Sriwanichpoom (Thailand)
Munem Wasif (Bangladesh)
Nalini Malani (India)
Nandini Valli Muthiah (India)
Navjot Altaf (India)
Pablo Bartholomew (India)
P. Sainath (India)
Putu Sayoga (Indonesia)
Shadi Ghadirian (Iran)
Ram Rahman (India)
Raqs Media Collective (India)
Rashid Rana (Pakistan)
Samuel Fosso (Cameroon)
Sheba Chhachhi (India)
Susanta Mandal (India)
Tejal Shah (India)
Tracey Moffatt (Australia)
Vivan Sundaram ( India)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *