The return to the origins of Anu Kumar, the photographer

We recently discovered the work of the documentary photographer Anu Kumar (Delhi, 1990) who was born and raised in Naarm (Melbourne) with the demanding expectation of having to excel in academia, as is the case for other first generation children.

In addition, after emigrating, her trips to India were becoming more and more of a burden. Until, at the age of 21, Anu decided to return alone to her homeland, and it was then that she began to see things in a completely different light.

“Something inside me changed. I was ready to embrace what I had been rejecting my whole life.”

That period in her life brought about a radical change. Not only did she begin to take photographs in the streets surrounding her family home in Kavi Nagar in Ghaziabad (Utter Pradesh), with her aunt as her guide, but that casual past time, prompted by her curiosity, led her to her real vocation: photography.

“Taking those photographs allowed me to understand my identity and my origins, as well as to explore the life I could have had if we had never left.”

As you will see, Anu Kumar’s photographs are marvellous, capturing the expressions and peculiarities of everyday life, that we tend not to see and that many people overlook. Because she loves details, capturing the moment and framing it forever. Her process is unhurried, and she seeks to immortalise that truth that she wishes to remember forever.

Among her main references and inspiration is B.V. Doshi’s architecture, the work of Bharat Sikka, Nicholas MuellnerRaymon MeeksSimryn GillDayanita SinghandOlgac Bozalp and even musical videoclips, such as Hiro Murai’s for Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar’s song Never Catch Me or Khalil Joseph’s short film for Flying Lotus. And also, fabrics. In fact, she admits she has a complete album with images of draped fabrics tied to objects that she found on her strolls around India.

This fascinating and personal photography series that we bring you is called Ghar, which means home in Hindi, and it is the culmination of more than five years creating images of her birthplace, Kavi Nagar, India.

“In the course of this journey photographing Ghar over five years, I felt a very profound connection with my family. What began as a response to my curiosity soon transformed into an exhaustive visual record to preserve and document intergenerational gestures and family rituals.”

As you can imagine, this project has been quite a challenge for her, as it has been very emotional but the best thing is that it has allowed her to find and connect with her roots, as well as allowing her to discover her innate talent that has already become her profession.

“I would say that as I grow older, I have more of a sense of belonging to India, although I am not sure if I will ever really feel Indian or Australian. It’s an ongoing and changing battle.”

Anu Kumars photographs have been published in The New York Times and Vogue Italy and were recently shown at the CCP (Centre for Contemporary Photography) as well as in a photography book with Perimeter Editions at the end of 2022.

(*) Photos: Anu Kumar.


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