Blog / Collection Highlights

Poulomi Basu
Fireflies, 2019 –

"the work is an act of embodied activism, of listening to the body, listening to the earth and each other"

ABOUT THE artwork

In this image from the series Fireflies (2019 – ongoing), Indian artist and activist Poulomi Basu reflects on experiences of trauma – particularly patriarchal violence – navigating the claustrophobia of home, dreams of freedom, defiance, and transcendence. In Basu’s own words, “the work is an act of embodied activism. It is an act of sharing one’s way of listening to the body, listening to the earth and each other, in a way that supports others to do the same."

Using the power of photography as a tool for storytelling, Basu amplifies women’s voices from the majority world and advocates for the rights of marginalised women. Inspired by magical realism, eco-feminism and dystopian science fiction, Basu carefully orchestrates her images against the celestial beauty of the natural world. She weaves together the real and the fantastical to create a charged psychological landscape: capturing moments of love and closeness, the intensity of traumatic memory, and experiences that cannot be put into words.

This work was developed in January 2020 while the artist was on the Autograph x Light Work residency and is now a part of Autograph’s collection.

about the artist

Poulomi Basu

Poulomi Basu (b. 1983, India) has become widely known for her influential photographic projects Blood Speaks, Centralia, and To Conquer Her Land, to name a few. Her first photobook Centralia was published by Dewi Lewis in 2020. The book and exhibition won the 2020 Rencontres d'Arles Discovery Award Jury Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2021 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize.

Basu is a Sundance Fellow, National Geographic Explorer, and Magnum Foundation Social Justice Fellow. Her works are part of public collections, including Autograph, London (UK); Martin Parr Foundation (UK); Museum of Modern Art (Special Collections) (USA); Rencontres d’Arles (FR); Victoria and Albert (UK), amongst others.

You can follow Basu on Instagram, and see more of the artist's work on her website.

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This photograph is in Autograph's permanent collection of photography, where it has been conserved and digitised


This work featured in the artist's solo exhibition of the same name at Autograph, London and will tour to East Gallery in Norwich in Autumn 2023

related CONTENT

Online gallery

View our online gallery of highlights from Basu's Fireflies exhibition

View gallery

Poulomi Basu: Fireflies

Basu's solo exhibition at Autograph's gallery in London

Find out more

Fantasy Through A Feminist Lens

An interview with the artist exploring notions of trauma, self-care and worldbuilding in Fireflies

Read blog post | 9 min read

Listen: Speculative Futures

Poulomi Basu discusses her work which uses female-centred science fiction as inspiration to explore possible futures

Listen back | 72 min

The Enduring Legacies of Women's Trauma

Autograph's Bindi Vora speaks with the artist in 2020 about telling stories of resistance and solidarity

Read blog post | 14 min read

Virtual Visit: Fireflies

Take a virtual tour of highlights from Basu's exhibition at Autograph

Take tour

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Banner image: Poulomi Basu, from Fireflies, 2019 – ongoing. © and courtesy the artist.

Other images on page: 1) Poulomi Basu, photograph by Maria Lax. 2) Installation image of Poulomi Basu: Fireflies. Exhibition at Autograph, London, 4 Mar – 4 Jun 2022. Curated by Bindi Vora. Photograph by Zoë Maxwell.