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The Creative Minds of Dharavi: Analog Pictures By Children

No Mans Art Gallery is holding a Slum Photography Contest in the slums of Dharavi with kids between 12 & 20. And what is it that makes this so special? Well it shows the unique viewpoint of these children and also brings them together giving them a aim & objective, directing towards a more productive life.

No Mans Art Gallery exhibits works of young artists all over the world by organizing pop-up galleries in a different country every three months. The gallery has popped up on trees in Amsterdam, in an empty luxury flat in Rotterdam, occupied two floors of a ready to be torn down harbor building in Hamburg and after the Mumbai exhibition, expect to find us on a underground location in Paris.

In a series of reports, this being the first, Emmelie, the owner of No Mans Art Gallery will keep you updated on the progress of this very special photography contest here in the Lomography Magazine . Stay tuned for more reports in the coming days. Find them easily here

It is a cloudy day in Mumbai, India. For forty-five teenagers, it is also a day filled with excitement. The teenagers, all inhabitants of Asia’s biggest slum Dharavi, have been handed out an analogue camera. For some of these kids, it is the first time that they enter the world of photography.

The kids, aged between 12 and 20, are the participants of the No Man’s Art Gallery’s Slum Photography Contest. The winner gets a big poster of the winning shot, and his work will be exhibited at the No Man’s Art pop-up gallery in Mumbai, which opens on the 1st of July 2011.*

Looking at the kids trying out the cameras, it is not the first prize that seems to be generating their biggest excitement. The prospect of being given the prints of their shots thrills them more. But what entices the kids the most is just that simple action of pushing that button under their index finger: they have just learned how to use it. I imagine what they are feeling and why they are so excited about it.

It reminds me of how I felt the first time my parents allowed me to touch a camera. I was six and it was a very big moment. I looked through the viewfinder, more interested into clicking that button than into what I was looking at. Even though this was in the pre-digital era, such that there was no way to know what would happen when I clicked – there was no instant result – that single click excited me so much; right until I got to see the result one month later.

I must admit that my result did not manifest particularly tremendous talent, nor did I capture any interesting situation. I keep telling myself that I should not expect much more of these 45 children, but I have this feeling in my bones that I can’t seem to shake off. It tells me that there are some latent artistic souls, hidden deep down in the Mumbai slums, whose creative brilliance might be stimulated and revealed in the next couple of days.

Text by Emmelie Koster, Owner of No Man’s Art Gallery
Photos by No Man’s Art volunteers shot with a Lomography Diana Mini camera and 35mm 100 and 200 ISO film rolls provided by Lomography.

  • The best shot will be exhibited in large format at the No Man’s Art pop-up gallery, which will be in Mumbai from July 1st to 3rd. The location of the gallery is secret and is only revealed to those who rsvp, which can be done by sending an e-mail to rsvp@nomansart.com stating your name.

written by abhoan

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