Chennai Photo Biennale Foundation in collaboration with the Diffusion Festival-Wales with the support of the British Council and Wales Arts International announces the Open Call for a grant for resident photographers and lens based artists from India and Wales to submit proposals on the theme – IMAGINING THE NATION STATE.

This collaboration enables a total of four grant awards – to two Indian and two Welsh photographers/lens-based artists for the production of work on the basis of proposals submitted through the open call. The works produced by the four artists will be exhibited at the next Diffusion festival in 2021. The work is also likely to be showcased at a subsequent edition of Chennai Photo Biennale on the basis of available funding and further grant support.


It is somewhat of a paradox that at a time when individuals are more globally connected than ever before, the idea of ‘nationhood’ remains a powerful unifying force for people.

Could it be that the idea of one’s national identity is defined by a common language, history and culture is at odds with the complex, pluralistic and ever-changing state of nations?

Is the term ‘nation state’ simply an outmoded and divisive construct around which people and land are organised, or does it have a contemporary relevance?

Can we create a new, inclusive vision of nationhood compatible with our global responsibilities?

How do we ensure that a nation’s innovations, cultural forms, wealth and resources are harnessed for the common good, not just for the benefit of those living within its borders?

There is often one nation state, but there are many imaginations of the nation state depending on where one is speaking from.

Photographers/lens based artists are invited to engage with these and many such questions in the process of producing ongoing, current and relevant imaginations of the idea of the nation state. Specific to such efforts must be an active conceptualization of both sameness and difference, in relation to what is understood to be the template of the nation-state. To this extent, artists might choose to work with many modalities including but not limited to narrative, materiality, symbolism, phenomenology, fantasy, event, and contingency. At the heart of submissions, must be a willingness for conceptual experimentation and a spirit of critique.

*Concept note development: Mathangi Krishnamurthy, David Drake, Chennai Photo Biennale Foundation

Chennai Photo Biennale Foundation and its Welsh partner Diffusion: Cardiff International Festival of Photography (a biennial event curated and run by Ffotogallery Wales) were collectively awarded the The British Council Connections through Culture: India-Wales 2020 grant which has made this project possible.


The theme for the grant submissions is ‘Imagining the Nation State’ and invites proposals from resident photographers and lens-based artists in India and Wales, with special encouragement to female/female identifying practitioners.


Applicants must be a resident of either of the two countries


Applicant is of non-Indian or non-Welsh origin and has concurrent resident permits from 2015 of either of the two countries valid at least till Dec 2021.

The grant amount being awarded is 1500 GBP per artist and will be issued to the awardee in four parts – the details of which will be emailed to the awardee upon selection and announcement.

Shortlisted applicants will be announced 10 days prior to the final award. The jury will be doing video interviews with the shortlisted candidates to arrive at their final decision.

The grant is given to four independent artists towards the production of four bodies of works – two from India and two from Wales. Selected work will be new or a development of a body of work under production, but not yet realised in exhibition form.

The grant will also consider if two artists would like to apply as a team offering two interconnected/conjoined proposals (for instance, one proposal supplementing the other, or one could be a photo-based work and the other a video work).

The four awardees can choose to work independently or collaborate with each other and take their projects forward.

In support of their proposal, applicants should submit an ongoing body of work or have a folio of work from a similar genre to supplement their written proposal.

No single-image works will be considered for the grant. Your submission should be a series from one body of work/project.

The grant is towards the production of the work and should include a reasonable fee for the artist. Every proposal will be required to present a detailed timeline and how the artist intends to spend the grant amount on the basis the production timeline.

Exhibition/presentation costs, including printing, framing, installation, invigilation and interpretation, will be determined and met by the curating organisations, subject to available resources.

In consultation with the artists, work created and submitted will be used for promoting the grant via social media, newsletters, video and traditional media. Awarded artists will be expected to provide material from their project and remain available for interviews with the media and with CPB Foundation and Diffusion/Ffotogallery social platforms. The organisers’ and granters’ websites will also serve as a portal for collating the processes and outcome of the entire project.

Exhibition of final works at either Diffusion 2021 or CPB will be designed basis available funding and venues in conversation with artists.

By applying to this grant, applicants implicitly agree to abide by the grant terms and conditions and keep to timelines specified. Failure to reach milestones or participate in follow up communication may result in withdrawal of further grant funding.

Should the production of the work require more time and the artist-awardee is unable to meet the deadline due to health reasons or unforeseen circumstances, the artist should contact the grants committee immediately on


Open call announcement – June 15, 2020

Application deadline: August 30, 2020

Shortlist announcement – Sep 20, 2020

Announcement of 4 finalists+ virtual announcement ceremony : Sep 30, 2020

Period to produce work: 15 Oct 2020 – 15 April 2021

Diffusion: Cardiff International Festival of Photography: Launch event April/May 2021

Final works (digital files) to be provided to CPB Foundation and Ffotogallery/Diffusion by 30 April 2021