Zine by Thejaswini Chandran (they/she)

Berlin-based photographer Thejaswini Chandran shares the zine ‘within/without,’ which was created during Covid-19 lock-down while living back home in Bangalore, India. Like many people during this time, Chandran took a step back and looked closer into home-life, personal curiosities within found-objects and drew from dreams and the idea of one’s own body as a subject.

For our third tIR Spotlight series, ‘within/without’ lends us a different glimpse into the use of photography as shown before on our blog: the medium’s ability to make us creative with what is available, process varying emotions, and express one’s thoughts when presented with an uncertain future and limited resources, as with the Covid-19 Pandemic. Chandran’s photographic work revolves around blending fantasy with social justice, which includes feminism and intersectionality.

Thejaswini Chandran: The within/without zine started with an exercise in stripping back my conceptual process and making use of whatever my parents had in their house. The Covid-19 pandemic had just hit and I was stranded back home. I mulled over the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’, the ‘mental’ and the ‘physical’, the ‘us’ and the ‘them’.

Some of the spreads were taken directly from my dreams. Others were inspired by events in the news and my immediate surroundings. In dreams and reality, my memory clings to textures and colour. They fill in the blanks, flesh out experiences.

Movement is another frequent theme in my work. Perhaps this comes from loving movies and being awkward with the video medium myself. Thinking about inside and outside, I couldn’t help but address movement and stillness, consequently connecting them to productivity and rest.

The zine is a conflation of all sorts of binarised thinking, made in a period of collective panic and stress, reflecting the hyperobsessive state that I was in. Although the photographs are hyperrealistic, they are surreal as well, creating a world populated only by myself and my fixations.

I was born and raised in Bangalore, India and now live in Berlin. Instilled with feminist values from childhood, my best friends growing up were books and the internet; through them I learned the facts of the world while keeping an open mind to fantasy and creativity.

My creative practice as an adult combines these childhood fascinations: telling important stories with a touch of fantasy (mainly with photography and collage). Veganism, feminism, queerness and intersectional revolution are my core values. Lately, I’ve been working on a documentary series exposing the murky world of passports, visas and mobility inequality. I’m on the look-out for more people to photograph for this series.