5 Questions with Snehargho Ghosh
by Leah Jing
Snehargho Ghosh is a Melbourne-based photographer born in West Bengal, India. Since moving to Australia in 2014, Snehargho’s photographic work has focused on documenting creative events and portraying artists in their space through directorial photography. His photography has been exhibited in India, Australia and Europe.
Snehargho’s upcoming exhibition, In Situ, is opening at FCAC, Thursday 8th February, 6pm—8pm.
Tell us about your experience as a participant of FCAC’s Emerging Cultural Leaders program.
The Emerging Cultural Leaders program was a great way to be introduced to the art community in Melbourne and to have my art practice reach a greater and more diverse audience. Understanding the practicalities of making a living out of one’s art and being relatively new to the art scene of Melbourne at that time, this opportunity came in at the right time. I learnt a great deal from the mentors and from fellow ECL-ers. We were encouraged to always keep pushing the boundaries of our artistic knowledge. Developing leadership values was also cornerstone and came very handy in my daily art practice.
Overall, being part of the program was very inspiring, and boosted my confidence as an artist.
What drew you to create In Situ?
In Situ was inspired by my fellow Emerging Cultural Leaders. The ECL program gave me my first experience of learning alongside, and working with, a group of artists since moving to Melbourne. I felt very strongly that getting to know my fellow ECL-ers would teach me a lot about the artist community here. I was curious to find out what defines and drives them. These are answers you usually find in peoples’ personal spaces or in spaces that they work or feel comfortable in. During the start of the ECL program we went through three days of intensive workshops that included apotropaic exercises that made all of us very comfortable with one another, at close quarters. I think that was when I became motivated to get to know them at a deeper level. I wanted to use environmental portraits, a technique that I love, to portray them in places and with objects in and through which they find inner power, inspiration and that define their identity. This is an aspect of artists’ lives that is often concealed from the public gaze.
What was your process in choosing your subjects?
The process was quite simple. I wanted to photograph all my fellow Emerging Cultural Leaders as well as our main mentor Bo Svoronos. The program was about us and I wanted to keep it that way. I thought it would be my contribution to the program and to my fellow ECL-ers who have been kind and courageous enough to open their intimate spaces to me.
What has been the most challenging —or rewarding!— aspect of creating In Situ?
Photographing my ECL peers took me about five months. I came to a deeper understanding of every one of them: who they are, their art practice, their weaknesses and their strength. I felt privileged to be allowed in those spaces. There were times when I felt that I wouldn’t be able to finish photographing all the 15 people in time. I dedicated to it a lot of time and had to cut down hours from my paid work, even though I was already living on a very small budget. This sacrifice paid off though. Soon after starting this project, FCAC took a lot of interest in my work and commisisoned me to make a catalogue for the ECL showcase. Other photography projects came in as well, and brought me more opportunities.
I feel so richer, at the human, personal level, after crossing the paths of all these people I have met through this project. Coming from overseas, it is an extremely rewarding experience to have my first solo exhibition in Melbourne. It has been inspiring to see the attention that this project has drawn. I now approach my artistic career in Australia with greater confidence and optimism.
What can we see next from Snehargho Ghosh?
I recently came back from a two-month trip in India where I worked on a couple projects, which I am eager to showcase. One of them is a documentary project on one of the Indigenous cultures of the Himalayas: the Lepchas. Another project I worked on portrays a yoga community in my hometown, Siliguri, West Bengal. My intention is to show the practice of yoga, as it is followed in this community, in order to challenge the social understanding of Yoga in white-dominated communities in Australia and in other privileged parts of the world. I am now looking for exhibition spaces and magazines willing to exhibit and/or publish these works.
Another future project, which is still at the conception stage, is to create a series of photographs on the idea of cultural exchanges and diversity in Australia by using the concept of Indian and European classical paintings and sculptures. The aim will be to challenge the viewers’ understanding of diversity and cross-cultural exchanges.
OPENING Thursday 8 February, 6pm—8pm
EXHIBITION 9 February— 10 March.