An exhibition on Kashmir held in Thailand showcased the unseen realities of Kashmir during the years of turmoil

Kashmir – the firdous bar ro –e– zameen (paradise on the earth) doesn’t need an introduction. From time immemorial, Kashmir has been known and has found mention in many historical, cultural, poetic and travel accounts. Known for its beauty, Kashmir didn’t see the best of the times over the last 25 years which has altered the lives of Kashmiris. Now Emaho Magazine tries to bring forth the life of Kashmir in the past two and a half decades as documented in photographs. These images were showcased at Chiang-Mai in Thailand earlier this month.

Manik Katyal, one of the two curators of the exhibition, describes it as an attempt to showcase the unseen realities of Kashmir during the years of turmoil. The exhibition showcased the work of 11 photographers including both local and foreign.

Showkat Nanda, one of the local photographers describes the effort of Emago as an “extremely meaningful step to show the reality of a place which has so far been seen only through the prism of pre-conceived beliefs.” He acknowledges that being born and brought up in Kashmir has shaped his perception in a different way which comes out through his work. He said that as a Kashmiri, he is able to relate better with the surroundings. Other local photographers include Faheem Qadri, Sumit Dayal and Danish Ismail.

Amongst international photographers, there were Ami Vitale (Panos Images), Andy Sypra, Michele Borzoni (Terra Project), Robert Nickelsberg (Getty Images), Yannick Cornier and Sami Siva (Redux Images). One of the participants, John Vink of Magnum Photos mentions that a “photographer behind the lens sees high passions in Kashmir, he can only show the surface of. He can’t take sides and only wish for peace. Every initiative which promotes mutual understanding is a scratch on the surface of prejudice.”

The organisers plan to bring this exhibition to India and subsequently to Kashmir. Manik says that organising a workshop for young and budding photographers of Kashmir is also in the pipeline. According to him, Kashmir has a lot to offer in the field of photography and just showcasing it doesn’t do full justice to it, one also has to groom new talent for better returns.