As a photographer and documentarian, Anita Khemka’s work has explored themes of gender, sexuality and identity in India.
Before picking up photography in 1996, Khemka studied English literature at the University of Delhi. In 2003, she assisted German filmmaker Thomas Wartmann on his documentary on alternate sexuality in India, titled Between the Lines — India’s Third Gender. Through this, she met Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a hijra, dancer and transgender rights activist. Begun in 2004, her work Laxmi is an ongoing photo-documentation of Laxmi’s life and community. Another series, Self Portraits (2005), comprises self-portraits taken in different parts of India, with the photographer appearing as the subject of her own images for the first time. Sweet Sixteen (2006) captures the period between childhood and womanhood through portraits of sixteen-year-old Indian girls, displayed alongside testimonials authored by them. The series was published as a part of the book, IMAGINING OURSELVES: Global Voices from a New Generation of Women (2006).
Other works by Khemka include Kashmir (2016–ongoing), a collaboration with Imran Kokiloo that seeks to archive how the conflicts in the region affect the people of Kashmir. The work consists of family albums, found photographs, identity cards, medical records and other personal artifacts. Conceptualised during the COVID-19 lockdown in New Delhi, Shared Solitude (2020–ongoing) is a series of family portraits investigating individual identities within familial units.
Khemka is represented by PhotoINK, New Delhi. Her work has been exhibited widely, including at the Biennale Photoquai , Paris, France (2007); the exhibition Where Three Dreams Cross: 150 years of photography from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh held at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2010); and FotoFest International, Houston, USA (2018). She was head of the photography department at the Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communication from 2014 to 2019.
At the time of writing, Khemka lives in New Delhi and works with the MurthyNAYAK Foundation.
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