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The Qawwali Photo Project: An untold story

The Qawwali Photo Project: An untold story
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India International Centre' (IIC) is set to present 'The Qawwali Photo Project', an exhibition of photographs dedicated to Qawwali practitioners. It is going to be on view from November 18, 2021, to November 28, 2021.

On November 17 at 6 pm, Amitabh Kant and Hans Raj Hans will inaugurate this exhibition.

Before the inaugural event, the 'Symposium on Qawwali: An Academic Study' will be conducted from 10:30 am to 6 pm. It is a symposium that will focus on the revival of this oral tradition and performing art with a special emphasis on the livelihood opportunities for performing artists. Speakers at the symposium include experts, musicologists, sociologists, filmmakers, students and traditional performers.

As part of the inauguration, 'Dastaan-e-Qawwali' will be presented by Askari Naqvi.

In the evening, 'Qawwali Mehfil - Tradition and Experiment: Bulleh Shah and Amir Khusrau' will also be held along with performances by Ustad Ranjhan Ali, Manjari Chaturvedi and Dhruv Sangari.

During the 10-day exhibition, solo recitations of Qawwals will be presented by new voices every evening.

'The Qawwali Photo Project' is the first-ever photo documentation and exhibition on Qawwali. It is an initiative meticulously conceptualised where the untold story of Qawwali unfolds through the eyes of photographers. The practitioners are photo-documented with their performance art, their lives and their association with the Sufi shrines where they perform. The images of practitioners with their families, in their everyday lives and their interaction with audiences and the pulsating connection of energy between them. The Qawwals become the voice of the many prayers of the hundreds of devotees that throng the shrine, seeking grace.

This project seeks to bring forth interesting perspectives as captured through the mind and lens, for the cultural and social dimensions of the art form that unfold like pages from a visual story.

As part of the project, the photography exhibition explores the art form through the power of images as a means of expression and communication. The images of the Qawwali practitioners are uniquely shot amid the people in an organic, non-commercial setup.

The Qawwals of the subcontinent have largely remained faceless, of course, a name and music that people associate with, but not the face of the man. This is what led to the formation of this project, to show the real faces behind this music. These musicians come from families where artistic knowledge and practice have been passed down for generations as a precious heirloom. Art is how they connect with themselves, their communities and their sense of spiritual purpose. The technology at times dehumanises the music form, removes the human and only the sound becomes a memory. This project gives the image to the sounds and the identity to the people who give us the incredible music, the Qawwals.

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