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In 2016, a group of young photography enthusiasts in Agartala, Tripura came together to form “BOINARI” a visual artists’ collective which translates to “FRIENDS” in Kokborok - the primary native language of the Tripuri people and those in neighbouring areas of Bangladesh.
They founded BOINARI intending to start a homegrown photo festival to curve a niche for the northeast, solely out of love for visual media and arts beyond the confines of the usual four walls that host such exhibitions.
The first edition of the Egaro Photo Festival was held at the Rabindra Shatabarsiki Bhavan parking lot in Agartala and exhibited the works of 11 photographers working in the Indian subcontinent.
“Egaro” got its name from the number 11 (which translates into Egaro in Bengali).
As time went by, the festival developed and began including photography in print, visual arts and other forms and crafts.
The photo festival aims to bring out the works of photographers working across various genres of visual media to inculcate the importance of contemporary art and media.
The primary goal of the festival is to inspire, encourage and to serve as a platform for upcoming artists and photographers.
Several photographers previously exhibited on the Egaro Photo Festival have carved out a niche for themselves in photography and visual arts by achieving national and international recognition.
“Our team behind the photo festival is a diverse group of students, bankers, IT professionals, freelancers, who work together at the end of every year to bring out the Festival,” said the team at Egaro.
For the second and third edition of Egaro, held in 2017-18 and 2018-19 respectively, the festival was spearheaded by independent photographer Arkadripta Chakraborty.
In 2019, it was decided that the festival would go biennial to cope with the changing photography scenario and the geographical location disparity because of the festival being held in Agartala and, of course, financial constraints.
The biggest challenge to the festival is securing funds, as it comes from a region where investors and sponsors are scarce.
Every year, the team, with most of its members located across various cities in India, get together to discuss the prospect of the exhibition.
The fourth edition of the Egaro Photo Festival was planned for 2020 after its biennial announcement, but plans did not go well thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
But the team is driven by the saying, “After the Plague, Came the Renaissance”.
So, with that said, the Egaro Photo Festival is all set to make its virtual debut this year on January 7, 2021, on its website www.egarophotofestival.com
With the festival being led by Independent photographer Raju Debnath from Agartala, the fourth edition of the festival will be held from January 7 to January 17, 2021.
This time, they will exhibit the works of the following artists on the website:
1. Andrea de Franciscis
2. Andrea Fernandes
3. Anu Kumar
4. Ashima Raizada
5. Joe Paul Cyriac
6. Marylise Vigneau
7. Pinky Biswas Sanyal
8. Rohit Saha
9. Samsul Alam Helal
10. Shan Bhattacharya
11. Shivam Darnal
This year the organisers of the festival are also collaborating with Northeast Lightbox (a collaborative platform to document one of India’s most diverse regions to facilitate works from northeastern India), and The Confluence Collective from Sikkim (a collective of photographers and researchers working to create a platform to bring visual and oral stories of Darjeeling, Sikkim and the Himalayas).
Since the world has moved to the digital medium, the Egaro Photo Festival is also bringing in Anshika Varma, the founder of Offset Project, to discuss and share her knowledge on PhotoBooks for photography enthusiasts. And the best part is there would be no charge.
The Egaro Photo Festival hopes to earn more recognition as a northeast-based photo festival and looks forward to organising more editions in the future.
Interested parties can also visit www.egarophotofestival.com for more information or can also check them out on Instagram @egarophotofestival.
(Edited by Aparmita Das)