Born into a family that has been an active participant as well as patron of the arts in India, Shivani Dass is a full time photographer since 2007. After graduating from the Business School of Lausanne, Switzerland, Shivani worked with several before taking up photography full time.
Shivani Dass’ tryst with photography began as a child eager to capture the natural beauty of the places she visited during family holidays. Since 2007 she has been pursuing the art seriously and has received training under Munish Khanna and Bikash Das of Delhi School of Photography. She has a degree in photography from Light and Life Academy, Ooty, and has also participated in Foundry Photojournalism Workshops through which she has documented community rituals in Manali and industrial communities in Istanbul.
Her first solo exhibition “Sanjeevani in a Spectrum” was held in April 2010. It was dedicated to her father, whom she lost unexpectedly. She travelled to cities such as Agra, Ladakh, Benaras, Kolkata, Mysore etc and captured their myriad hues and textures. “Violet Dreams” was her second solo exhibitionin 2012, in which she explores the many facets of Sufism, a philosophy she is deeply invested in and fascinated by.
The photographs of the Chin people in this book fill the eye with these dilemmas. As ethnic minorities from Myanmar living in exile in the Indian capital, most of the men, women and children you see in these images have refugee status accorded to them by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and live in unspeakable hardship. But even without any knowledge of their precise circumstances, you can see them suffering from various maladies of the body and mind, perhaps from memories of the home they have been forced to leave behind. Captured in natural light, these images seem to exude a yellow gloom, conveying the jaundiced mood of the setting. There are pockets of darkness in these photographs, as though a metaphor for their lives. The handful of families represented in this project embody the traumas and tragedies that define the lives of a majority of the Chin community in India.
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