Wide EyeOpen - An exhibition of Photographs by the Visually Impaired

Early in 2004 accidentally I picked up an old issue of a photo magazine from a pavement vendor in Mumbai and came across an article on Evgen Bavcar, the world’s most accomplished blind Photographer based in Paris.My passion for photography made me contact him and get profoundly influenced by his work and philosophy. I engaged myself in self-study on blindness and visual art, and in the process, came in touch with several blind photographers and blind artists around the world and people working towards giving new insight to the blind and their artistic expression.


I decided to start a workshop on photography for the blind, but it was not easy to get around endless queries. Finally, after months of trying to get participants, the Victoria Memorial School for the Blind, Mumbai came forward to get the workshop started in January 2006.Since then, over 200 visually impaired have trained in photography workshops conducted across India.


Photographs “by” the blind; had to be “for” the blind. That made me work towards making the Beyond Sight an “inclusive” exhibition by providing a combination of raised touchable images, Braille footnotes, visual aids and descriptive tour for the visually impaired visitors to access the photographs. It redefines the notion “to see is to photograph and to photograph is to see.”


Photographs by the visually impaired reveals that a photograph can be made successfully in the mind as much as by the eyes. Demystify the polarity between blindness and visual expressions, enriches photography,sensitizes people and correct public perception of visual impairment- “diminished sense doesn’t mean diminished life.”


Wide Eye Open exhibition celebrates the human spirit of self-expression and it’s untiring ability to achieve. The Blind With Camera project and its “inclusive” exhibition is first of its kind in India. It aims to integrate the visually impaired into the mainstream society through the art of photography and to promote “Non – Retinal” photographic culture in India.


Partho Bhowmick