Women’s day 2024| This Chennai photo exhibition documents women outdoors

Shreya K A photographed women at leisure, in Kerala

When you imagine women outdoors, where do you see them? Is she immersed in a phone conversation while hard at work at her vegetable shop? Or is she with a friend, sharing a quiet giggle as they climb down a flight of stairs?Â

At the Women Outdoors photography exhibition by The Kala Collective, a myriad of these moments will come alive through the work of six photographers. The exhibition will be a part of the women’s day celebrations to be held at Goethe-Institut Chennai.Â

Jinkal Dabi shot women in Chennai above the age of sixty

Jinkal Dabi shot women in Chennai above the age of sixty


“The Kala Collective was started around two years ago as a space for female photographers and filmmakers. What started as a small group where we kept in touch, share work, and work opportunities has now evolved into a little community,” says Gayatri Nair, founder of the collective and one of the co-founders of the Chennai Photo Biennale Foundation.Â

For the exhibition, an open call was given to the members to submit projects on the theme of Women Outdoors. “We might not always take notice of this, but when we do, it becomes evident as to how few women are outdoors. There are a myriad of reasons for this,” Gayatri says.Â

From the entries received, five projects were selected from Chennai, Bengaluru and Palakkad, and each project, Gayatri says, explored the theme in different ways. “Harshini and Lekha from Bengaluru looked at beauty parlours as a space for women to meet, and bond — and how this becomes almost a feminist space of sorts. In Kerala, Shreya KA has photographed women at leisure and was inspired by the Women at Leisure project by Surabhi Yadav,” she says.Â

Arundhati Rajan shot women conservancy workers in Chennai

Arundhati Rajan shot women conservancy workers in Chennai


In Chennai, Jinkal Dabi photographed women above the age of sixty, who continue to work to remain financially independent and Anjali RB from Bengaluru worked around the concept of ‘footsteps of tomorrow’, which trained its focus on the aspirations of girls and how their footsteps take them forward into the future. Â

Arundhati Thillai Rajan, whose work seeks to spotlight women who work into the night, cleaning and taking care of the city, says the project led her to rediscover the city and its people.Â

“I did not delve straight into photographing these women and their lives, and initially chose to speak to them, strike up a conversation about their lives, work, and families. I saw them in different settings – at work, taking a break and having a sip of tea, and even waiting for a bus at the end of their shift,” Arundhati says.Â

The photography exhibition is among a host of events being organised by the Goethe-Institut, Chennai for International Women’s Day. “I do hope that people are intrigued, and that the photos spark a discussion on why the outdoors is not as female as it could be — given how male dominated it is in many cities,” says Katharina Gorgen, Director of Goethe-Institut Chennai. “I love how all the photographers have varying perspectives and have covered a wide range of women outdoors, from work to leisure,” she adds.

@Goethe Institut, Max Mueller Bhavan, Rutland Gate, Nungambakkam. The exhibition will be inaugurated on March 8 at 5pm, and is on till March 17.

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