When is a picture worth a thousand words?

Monday, 1 April 2013 00:14 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Ajita Kadirgamar

Women related topics are never in short supply – they scream at us from the headlines every day, and most often in a negative, biased and depressingly fatalistic manner. Women related events tend to be heavy, academic and institutionalised events. Like a breath of fresh air, an uplifting and inspirational women-centric event is around the corner.

‘Women – Out of the Frame’, a photography initiative by the National Peace Council and Menika van der Poorten will be held from 4-10 July 2013 at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery. The deadline for submission is 24 April 2013.

This photographic project aims to present new perspectives on women in Sri Lanka, offering local photographers the opportunity to not merely capture an image but to delve deeper into the stories, connotations and perhaps subliminal messages that their photographs deliver.

Van der Poorten’s goal is to get entries from every corner of the island. “My idea is to reach as many people as possible through the ‘process’ and see what’s out there. We’ve got a lot of responses already from places like Kalmunai, Matara, Kilinochchi, Hambantota etc. You might not get something as sophisticated as a Colombo entry but then again you might get something more raw that depicts women in different situations.”

The final selection of entries will be decided by a panel of judges who will be looking for images that go beyond the mundane, stereotypical portrayal of women. So for instance, it might be refreshing to see images say of women having fun, a comic moment perhaps, women juggling their multitude of daily roles and tasks, the gracious beauty of an elderly women, not just the sensual in-your-face prettiness of young women which we are saturated with in every media on a daily basis. There are no limits to the levels of creativity entrants can aspire to. And by the way, men too are invited to participate, for as Van der Poorten notes, it’s important to get men’s perspective too.

The exhibition will prove to be an ideal platform for talented Sri Lankan photographers to showcase their work, be recognised for their innovative perspectives and most importantly change the way we perceive women in our country.

Van der Poorten is not looking for perfection or absolute professionalism, but the kind of photos that compel you to stop and take a second look. Also the photos submitted don’t actually have to be of women, they can be scenes from a woman’s world, photo stories etc., and the photos don’t need to have been taken in Sri Lanka.

Exhibition organisers will undertake the printing and framing of selected exhibition prints. The exhibitors will be featured in a full colour exhibition catalogue, on a dedicated exhibition website, and be invited to participate in workshops accompanying the exhibition. The exhibition and workshops are supported by The National Peace Council and the Royal Norwegian Embassy.

Van der Poorten, a professional photographer, educator and curator herself, is keen to support and promote more photography education in the country. ‘Women – Out of the Frame’ will offer a series of presentations and group discussions which will be carried out with the primary goal of supporting and uplifting the skills and education of photographers in the country.

Van der Poorten is encouraged by the kind of response and interest she has received at photographic workshops held in Kandy and Galle recently. To submit your entries call 077 7800076 for more details or email outoftheframe.sl@gmail.com