Poulomi Basu, born and raised in Kolkata, is a young, feisty and passionate documentary photographer and multi media exponent.
She completed her first degree in sociology and her interest in women’s issues in the sub-continent and an interest in photography resulted in her becoming a social activist using photography to highlight the human rights issues facing poorer women.
Her heroes are literary – William Faulkner, J.G. Ballard, Arundhati Roy and the dream narratives of David Lynch.
Her passion has resulted in a series of extraordinary projects:
Women sent into exile during menstruation – in Nepal a traditional belief about the impurity of menstrual blood means women and girls are banished to makeshift huts during their periods. Her advocacy work continued, with others, after the completion of the project resulting in a change in the law in Nepal making this a criminal offence.
To conquer her land – looks at the women who guard the Indo-Pak border and the issues they face: the stress of conflict, psychological warfare, class, youth, gender.
Centralia – the complex story of a 50 year conflict about land grabs, forced displacement, Maoist rebels and state executions. Displaced people are fighting back to save their land from industries taking over to mine the land.
Water in the slums of India – working with Water Aid Basu looks at the issues related to sanitation problems and water shortages in the slums and the impact this has on the lives of women. She does this through the life of one young woman.
She came to London to take an MA in Photography and is based between here and the sub-continent.
Her work has been widely published in magazines and newspapers and apart from Water Aid she has completed assignments amongst others for Action Aid, Save the Children and UNESCO.
A winner of, or shortlisted for, a large number of awards and grants including the Magnum Foundation Human Rights Award. Her work has been exhibited around the world in some 13 countries and she has lectured in India, the USA and the UK.
Her first book Centralia will be published in 2019.
It was a privilege to spend time with Basu and to hear her passion for human rights and photography coalescing into such powerful projects, which could only have been undertaken by a woman photographer. A woman who spoke the same language and spent time getting to know the people and understand the issues – issues which are far beyond the knowledge of most of us in the West. The future is in good hands.
all images © Copyright Poulomi Basu