“To become public is to be seen and accounted for in history,” announces the text on the white walls introducing the photography exhibition at Pepper House, an art space cafe in Kochi where the Biennale is currently on. The sentence sounded revolutionary, hinting at an alternative history project. Is it a cry for a battle against the systematic invisibilisation of certain peoples, and of women?
Right next to the text hangs a framed colour photograph of a women’s public gathering in 1981 in Nepal. Next to that are some personal frames involving women—their portraits at home and in studios, indoor and outdoor group photos and other usual travel pictures. A few steps away are the more action-packed ones—women addressing political rallies and public gatherings, taking part in the Maoist armed revolution. It’s a room full of Nepali women’s photos of many sizes, some framed, some not; some in colour and some black and white; some on the walls, some pinned up on white wooden tables. “The journey of Nepali women from within the boundaries of domesticity to the openness of public life is a move from obscurity to memory,” the text on the wall further declares.