Centralia is SIPF 2020’s Published Photobook Winner.

Centralia is an Indian docu-fiction that journeys deep into the forests of central India where a little known and under reported conflict between an indigenous tribal people and the Indian state slowly simmers. In war, truth is the first casualty. Centralia explores the unsteady relationship between reality and fiction and how our perceptions of reality and truth are manipulated.


About Artist

Poulomi Basu is an Indian transmedia artist, photographer and activist. Poulomi’s work has become widely known for advocating for the rights of women. She was raised by her mother in Calcutta, India and found early inspiration in the
city’s rich cinematic history. After her father’s sudden death when Poulomi was 17, her mother told her to leave home as soon as her studies were complete so that she may follow her dreams and live a life of breadth and choices that was denied to her.

Since then, Poulomi prefers the path less trodden. She has slept in the wilderness under a cloudless sky staring at a million stars in search of a guerrilla army whose story strikes right at the very heart of modern India’s global ambitions, through to divided families eking out an Alaskan existence on the last rocky outpost of American soil.

Time and again, she has found herself amongst ordinary people who quietly challenge the prevailing orthodoxies of the world in which they live: rural women in armed conflict, a mother’s pain for a son lost to ISIS, to the wonder of a near blind child reaching for the light.

Published by Dewi Lewis in 2020, her book Centralia explores the hidden conflictover minerals in central India with a particular focus on the role of women guerilla fighters. She is a National Geographic Explorer 2020.

Poulomi is forever in awe of the resilience shown by those in extraordinary circum- stance, by those who are bent but not broken.

Poulomi created Blood Speaks to utilise the power of photography and visual storytelling/activism to result in tangible social change and amplify the voices of women from the majority world. The three VR films will be distributed by Tribeca Film Institute.

Blood Speaks placed menstrual taboos and blood politics on the international agenda, resulting in a major policy change: the Nepalese government criminalised the practice of menstrual exile, which is resulting in the death and rape of women.

She has also collaborated with Action Aid on the campaign #MyBodyIsMine launched on World Menstruation Day (2018); and, To Be A Girl, with WaterAid, raised £2 million providing 130,000 girls with reusable sanitary kits and build toilets
(2014).

In December 2015, she shared a platform with the parents of the Nirbhaya Delhi rape victim talking about her social activist initiative, The Rape in India Project.

In January 2016 at the UN Young Changemakers Conclave, Poulomi spoke on the social impact of sustainable development with specifc reference to her long-term project Blood Speaks.

Poulomi featured on the BBC World Service Programme “The Conversation” along-side Lynsey Addario as one of the most signifcant contemporary war photographers. Poulomi featured alongside Hilary Clinton as one of the one of the Amazing women from around the world giving their best advice by Refnery29. And, in January 2019, the BBC World Service called her an “expert on menstruation.”

She was invited in January 2017 by Al-Jazeera to be a guest on The Mystery of Menstruation edition of their programme The Stream.

Her work has been internationally exhibited and she won the Magnum Emergency Fund in 2016 and was a Magnum Foundation Human Rights Fellow in 2012. She was short listed for the Tim Hetherington Visionary Award and the Catchlight Fellow- ship in 2017 with Blood Speaks, short listed for the MACK First Book Award for Centralia, and the FOAM Paul Huff Award amongst others.

She is the Director of Just Another Photo Festival, a traveling guerrilla visual media festival that democratizes photography by taking it to the people and forging new
audiences. Her festival was listed by BJP as 2015’s most Cool and Noteworthy and in 2016 in JM Colberg’s Conscientious Photography Magazine as an alternate voice of the ‘audience’.

Blood Speaks was selected for the Sundance New Frontiers Lab (2017), and she will be speaking at SXSW in March 2019 with her talk, Blood Speaks: Agency, Voice and Gender.


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Centralia
Poulomi Basu

Publisher
Dewi Lewis Publishing
2020

Design
Teun van der Hejiden

192 pages
300mm x 200mm

Edition of 1000