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'Celebrating Diversity of Bengal': India's First Instagram Exhibition Cover Picture

'Celebrating Diversity of Bengal': India's First Instagram Exhibition

A walk through the gallery of the country's first Instagram-sourced photography exhibition.

In today's technology-driven world where having a smartphone with a great camera is the norm, it didn't come as too much of a surprise when the popular photo and video sharing platform Instagram decided to take itself out of the screen and to the walls of art galleries.

Photo Credit: Arghya Chatterjee Photo Credit: Arghya Chatterjee

Kolkata recently played host to India's first ever Instagram Exhibition, which was held at Rabindranath Tagore Centre, ICCR. Streets of Calcutta and Calcutta Instagrammers has partnered with Facebook to curate and select a range of photographs by 17 Instagrammers that captured the theme of ‘Celebrating Diversity of Bengal’.

On attending the exhibition myself, I was pleasantly surprised to find a lovely selection of photographs that brought out the community spirit and beauty of the state, especially the rich reds, vermillions and greens. Striking a balance between rural and urban Bengal, the diversity in the food, people, festivals, attire, landscapes, architecture and wildlife were depicted in a truly celebratory manner that would do anyone proud of its rich heritage and culture.

Photo Credit: Debarshi Duttagupta Photo Credit: Debarshi Duttagupta

Photographer Anindito Mukherjee, whose work was showcased, acknowledged that Instagram is a great platform for photographers, both amateur and professional, to showcase their art to a larger audience. "Exhibitions like this are very encouraging as pictures that don't get space in publications due to various constrains see the light of the day. It prompts the photographer community to work more and get better," he said.

Photo Credit: Niladri Adhikary Photo Credit: Niladri Adhikary

Clearly, the role of social media in promoting the arts is something to rejoice, and makes platforms like Instagram or Facebook more than just distractions if they are used for the right reasons. This feeling resonates with Niladri Adhikary, who called it an "overwhelming experience". 

"The exhibition has mended the bridge between Instagrammers and non-Instagram users, as they can now see pictures in a physical space, and out of the virtual world. I like Instagram as an app because unlike Facebook and other social media sites, it is dedicated to image sharing, which can include some jaw-dropping shots from a DSLR or just instant mobile camera shots," he said.

Photo Crediit: Supriyo Ranjan Sarkar Photo Crediit: Supriyo Ranjan Sarkar

The three-day first-of-its-kind exhibition also featured the work of Supriyo Ranjan Sarkar, who noted that in a time when everybody is looking for their 60 seconds to fame and waiting to see how many Likes their post gets on social media, merely producing art is not enough. "You need to promote your art and communicate your ideas to others as well. Such initiatives and exhibitions can be an excellent way to promote art, the artist as an individual and their thoughts, while also building a robust network to reach rest of the world." 

Elaborating this point, he said, "Images have a universal language and the appearance of Instagram has provided a new dimension and has emerged as an extremely powerful tool for promoting photography and new ideas across the world."

As a photographer and 'avid Instagrammer', I was mildly disappointed to not have had my own work featured. But it made me proud to see such an interesting and contemporary exhibition in a Kolkata gallery. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the choice of subjects - from the famous India Coffee House and monuments to the vibrant festival celebrations to the bleak realities of red light area - there was more to each frame than would otherwise meet the eyes.

Photo Credit: Debiprasad Mukherjee Photo Credit: Debiprasad Mukherjee

What I also enjoyed was that rather than using the collage format of displaying the photographs as was done in the world's first Instagram exhibition at Phoville, New York in 2014, the pictures here were displayed as life-sized Instagram posts placed inside a frame, which was a more than welcome change from the world inside my iPhone screen.

Here's hoping that more such exhibitions cross the global shores and make their way to every nook and corner of India, creating a space for the hidden talents on Instagram to present their world to the rest of the world.


By Rohini Kejriwal
Cover Photo: Arpita Pramanick