‘We need more courses on history of photography’

Shubhangi Khapre:What brought you to India to take up photography...and set up a gallery?

Matthieu Foss:My wife is from Mumbai. Also it was a time in my career when I had worked behind Paris Photo fair, and then worked at several galleries looking after their collections, and organised exhibitions in France and China. We looked at India because so many positive things were happening here in terms of culture, and for Indian art around the world things were economically more feasible. When we moved, incidentally, there were no photography galleries here. There was Tasveer in Bangalore and one called PhotoInk in Delhi and so I started doing exhibitions in Mumbai.

Susan Hapgood:My husband is an architect and we decided to come here for two years to get out of a pretty complacent reality in New York. We are going to leave India and go back there by the end of this year. As an art historian and curator, I started Mumbai Art Room because I felt the art scene needs a non-profit organization. Coming to photography, I came upon an incredible book called 'India Through the Lens' by Vidya Daheja and I dived right into it. I then started researching on 19th century photography and quickly found that there is a huge amount of research still to be done. So I was doing this during my free time from my gallery. When FOCUS Festival was being conceived, Matthieu thought I may be able to curate for it.

Alaka Sahani:Tell us more about FOCUS Photography Festival, the first of its kind in Mumbai.

Matthieu Foss:It's been put together by people who have a passion for photography. The others on the team are Elise Foster, Vander Elst of Asia Art Projects and Nic Antaki. We began with approaching different venues and people across the city who we knew would make an effort to put together an exhibition, an event, a project with a certain standard. We were hence able to work with galleries, alternative spaces like bookstores, restaurants, shops and also public spaces like Horniman Circle and international institutes like Goethe Institute.

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