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Revelling in ruins

in INDIA, 01/12/2012

K. Venkatesh, a freelance news photographer is back with his photography exhibition, which is almost an annual feature now. This time, the exhibition, titled “Beauty and The Beholder”, comprises 51 photographs featuring Olga B. Aaron, a Chennai-based transwoman and social activist, modelling among the ruins of Bidar’s imposing fortress, and Takht Mahal.

Bidar, in north Karnataka’s Deccan Plateau, is home to one of the largest forts in India with an almost six-mile diameter; it was built during the Bahamani rule. It was one of the largest kingdoms in India in the 15 century. Venkatesh points out that despite its stature as the “envy of Rome”, Bidar has been largely ignored by everybody.

Venkatesh is well-known for using eunuchs as models for the first time in India, and has done an elaborate feature on the transgender festival and rituals at Koovagam (Tamil Nadu); he’s also produced perhaps the country’s first transgender calendar. Why does he repeatedly choose to work with transgenders? “Why not?” is his first instinctive response. “If they suit my subject, I will get them to model,” says Venkatesh who has interacted with transgenders for the last 15 years and produced three exhibitions featuring them.

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