Imagined Homeland (2013-ongoing) is a crossover documentary series on the life of the Tibeto-Burmese Lisu tribe living in the dense forests of Namdapha National Park (NNP) and Tiger Reserve on the remote Indo-Myanmar border of Arunachal Pradesh, India.
Says De: The Lisus call the forests ‘home’, self educate their children, heal their sick, build each other’s home and church, and pray together. Without an external economy they mostly barter, living symbiotically with nature as a self-sufficient community. Yet, they’re trapped, and are waiting. I attempt to reflect this dystopia, grace and dignity in the surreal portraits. How does cohabiting with nature influence us? What lessons does this way of life offer mankind especially in Anthropocene where the world has constructed a society far removed from nature? In Imagined Homeland, I search for these answers by exploring the relationship between human and nature using intersections between symbolism and mythology. It envisions evoking feelings of the elusive home.
Sharbendu De is a lens-based visual artist, academic and a writer. His work explores intersections between documentary and conceptual approaches. Symbolism, mythology and dream interpretations influence his art practice. De has an MA in Photojournalism from the University of Westminster, London (2010) and presently teaches photography at AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, and Sri Aurobindo Centre for Art & Communication, New Delhi.
De’s long-term project ‘Imagined Homeland’ was recently exhibited at the ‘Voies Off’ Awards 2018, Arles, and currently exhibited in ‘Eyes on India’ by Eyes on Main Street Wilson, USA (2018); Curated by the German artist Boris Eldagsen, it will be exhibited at the Indian Photography Festival, Hyderabad (Sept’18); to be exhibited at Tblisi Photo Festival (Sept’ 18), was shortlisted for Athens Photo Festival (2018), received the Art Research Grant from India Foundation for the Arts (2017), shortlisted for Lucie Foundation’s ‘Photo Made’ scholarship and was a Nominee, ‘PhotogrVphy Grant. De’s fictional series Between Grief and Nothing (2015-16)’ was exhibited in Econtros da Imagem (2016), Photo Kathmandu (2017) and Geothe Institut (New Delhi, 2016; Mumbai, 2017). It was cited in WITNESS, and featured in GUP, LensCulture, IPA, PIX Quarterly, Dodho etc. He has exhibited in France, USA, Portugal, UK, Nepal and across India. De has worked in seven natural disasters to date.
He has also worked for international not-for-profits like UNDP, Oxfam India, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), World Vision India, WWF-UK, CARE India, WWF-India, Greenpeace, Rotary International, Save The Children Finland, Save The Children Bal Raksha Bharat etc. His work has been published in Mashable, Outlook Traveller, Fountain Ink, Marie Claire, Indian Express, Caravan Magazine, Motherland etc. He has worked in seven natural disasters including the Nepal earthquakes (2015), Jammu & Kashmir Floods (2014), Uttarakhand flash floods (2013 & 2014) and the Asian Tsunami (2004). De grew up in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands but presently lives in New Delhi.