Have Photos. Want Space.

May 11, 2010 3:09 pm by
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As any artist will attest, street art is best made when unpredictable, subversive and not entirely legal. Which is exactly the formula followed by Blindboys.org, an online photo-commune founded by photographers Akshay Mahajan and Kapil Das in 2009. Their Blowup events, where an ad-hoc public photo gallery is created using building walls and shop fronts as hanging space, have slowly accrued a devoted following. Submissions number in the hundreds. “We launched the website, and somewhere in between realised the website was not good enough,” says Mahajan, who splits his time between Mumbai and Bangalore. “We needed to do more, and so we had the first Blowup in Bangalore last September.”

Blowup in Delhi! from lenskap on Vimeo.

The formula is simple. Invite people to submit photo essays, select the best ones (“the photos should be articulate in saying something new,” Mahajan says), make laser prints (at just Rs15 a pop), find a suitable public venue, and then ask people to help tack them up. “Mostly, no, we don’t ask for permission from local authorities,” Mahajan says, though they do usually get permission from local businesses if using their walls.

So far, Delhi’s Connaught Place, and Bangalore’s Church Street have been witness to these swift amassments, as have venues in Paris and Newcastle. To bring a level of professionalism to the enterprise, Mahajan and Das are fastidious about printing out bios, captions and credits in both Hindi and English, which go up alongside the works.

For the Blowup in Mumbai on Saturday, May 22, the Blindboys have for the first time opened submissions to the general public. Past Blowups were invite-only, where Mahajan and Das reached out to photographers they knew (including Vogue India lensman Bharat Sikka, who incidentally, will contribute prints to the Mumbai Blowup). Using Facebook, they’ve widened the scope of their social experiment, inviting anyone from amateurs to professionals to submit a coherent body of work, which if chosen, will be printed out by Mahajan and Das. “We would want a story to be structured,” Mahajan says of the selection criteria. “We usually take five to ten works in a series.”

In the spirit of open participation however, anyone can bring their own works to the event—most likely to be held behind Mehboob Studios in Bandra—and pin them up. The best part? Mahajan and Das encourage dissemination of the works, and anyone who fancies can pull one (or two) off and take it home. “It’s surprising who wants to take the images,” Mahajan says. “It’s the people on the street, the panipuriwallah, the paanwallah who usually request for them.”

Click on the slideshow above to view images from past Blowups. All photos courtesy of Blindboys.org.

Blowup Bombay will be held from 4pm to 8pm on Saturday, May 22, in Bandra. For more details and to submit photos, visit Blindboys.org or join their Facebook group. The last date for submissions is Sunday, May 16.