An exhibition of 15 photographers mentored and curated by Ravi Agarwal (India), Munem Wasif (Bangladesh) and Andreas Deffner (Germany/India)

Water creates the flow of our life-stream. Oceans, rivers and lakes have always shaped settlements alongside developing into cities and defining the life of their inhabitants. More than anything else the quality of existence depends on the accessibility to clean drinking water. The way one relates to water will be a decisive factor not only for cities but also for countries and continents in the future.


In this global context, Chennai’s urban water situation has been a main focus since 2015 of the cultural cooperation of the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan, the German Cultural Institute, trying to arouse interest and artistically reflect upon future solutions. After the floods the challenges and perspectives are more relevant and clear than ever. On one hand Chennai is a city befriended by nature and steeped in tradition, having a lot of potential to be an attractive “water city” in welcoming visitors world-wide. On the other it could be seen as a paradigm of a fast growing 21st century city moving towards destructing its basis for life: water.

The exhibition Urban Water has been created beginning of 2016 focusing within this context.

In January, 15 up-coming photographers were selected and invited to get on to the other side of the lens and explore from behind the issues and stories surrounding water in Chennai.

Under the guidance and expertise of renowned photographers Munem Wasif (Bangladesh) and Ravi Agarwal (Delhi), they spent days and nights with field work and research on issues concerning water. As a team they created this astonishing collection of photographic work, where each is looking at water-issues from a different perspective in one’s own individual style, artistic approach and innovative means. As one of the core events of the first Chennai Photo Biennale it is exhibited in the Lighthouse MRTS Station as a public space to make it accessible to everyone.

The workshop was conducted at the Goethe-Institut in Chennai in January by the generous sponsorship of Photo Concierge. Photographer and mentor Andreas Deffner (Germany-Pondicherry) has conceptualized and designed this one-of-a-kind exhibition. We venture in presenting the exhibition as a rare visual treat and a mental feast to kindle the response of the audiences of water-city Chennai.

Participant's Profiles

Anshika Varma

Anshika Varma is a freelance documentary photographer. Her photographs are a means of exploring social and cultural changes in structures within communities.

Read More


Arun Vijay Mathavan

Arun is Kanyakumari based, engineer turnedphotographer, who is working on environmental issues and social documentary.

Read More



Arun is a photographer based in Chennai, India.My project on industrial water pollution Big industrial building eats up small lands to the competitive fast growing world, which is standing aggressively.

Read More


Balaji Maheshwar

Balaji is a Chennai based self-taught photographer. He works on various social and personal projects. Some of his works have been published with Geographical, Tehelka, Himal South Asian.

Read More


Dhruv Dhakan

Most of my work is based on single images, but somewhere down the line I have found there is a common string attached to all of it. I like documenting my environment and surroundings.

Read More


Gayatri Ganju

Over a week, I set myself a task – to walk along the Adyar River from Nandambakkam (where it becomes markedly contaminated) to where it meets the sea.

Read More


Jordi Pizarro

My main goal is to aid and increase awareness of issues affecting people and their environments in the world we live in.

Read More


Kannagi Khanna

Kannagi Khanna studied audiovisual production and specialized in FilmStudies at SIMC, Pune. She works with images that are staged and represent ideas.

Read More


Karen Dias

I photographed mainly post sunset and after dark to bring across the idea of their dreams which occur in darkness.

Read More


Nikhil Roshan

In the immediate aftermath of the floods that devastated Chennai in late 2015, the long embattled water bodies of the city came back into the limelight.

Read More


Ronny Sen

Ronny Sen (1986) was born in Silchar, Assam. He moved to Salt Lake City in Calcutta in the early 90’s with his family where he still lives and works.

Read More


Sathish Kumar

Sathish Kumar (B.1986), an emerging documentary photographer from Chennai. His focus is on culture, nature and environmental issues.

Read More


Sebastian Forkarth

Sebastian Forkarth (*1985) is a German documentary photographer who graduated from his studies in photography in Bielefeld and Jerusalem in 2012.

Read More


Swastik Pal

Born in 1991, Swastik Pal is a graduate from Calcutta University, India. After completing his post graduate diploma in mass communication from Jadavpur University.

Read More


Zishaan Akbar Latif

Zishaan has been an independent photographer since 2005 and an independent videographer since 2011. His style is intuitive, passionate, personal and sometimes eclectic.

Read More