Autograph

Poulomi Basu
Fireflies

4 March - 4 June 2022

Free Exhibition
Curated by Bindi Vora

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ADDRESS

ADDRESS

Autograph
Rivington Place
London EC2A 3BA, UK

TICKETS

TICKETS

Book a free, timed ticket or visit anytime the exhibition is open

OPENING TIMES

opening times

Wed and Fri: 11am - 6pm
Thu: 11am - 9pm
Sat: 12 - 6pm

about the exhibition



"I owe it to the women who have opened themselves up to me. I want them to know that we are fighting this oppression together. We are doing this with collective agency. Our voice of resistance.

— Poulomi Basu

In her deeply emotive and powerful new series Fireflies, Indian artist and activist Poulomi Basu foregrounds the relationship between mother and daughter. Using photography, video and sound, Basu reflects on experiences of trauma – particularly patriarchal violence – navigating the claustrophobia of home, dreams of freedom, defiance, and transcendence.

Basu is known for her work advocating for the rights of marginalised women using the power of photography as a tool for storytelling, amplifying women’s voices from the majority world. She says of the genesis of this new series: "Fireflies is a combination of ideas and of accumulated experiences which made me feel compelled to turn the camera upon myself; to tell my story of resistance and stand in solidarity with the women who have opened their lives to me.”

The artist and her mother feature prominently throughout the exhibition, oscillating between lone figures isolated in the vast expanse of sublime terrain to delicately composed portraits in which their bodies embrace. This intimate dialogue visualises how matrilineal history has been shaped through the bloodlines of collective experience, taking the viewer through a tender journey of generational healing.

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.

Large photographs of luminous glaciers are suspended in an arc in the centre of the gallery, envisioned by the artist as portals to a parallel world, a silhouette discernible within the densely layered ice. An enigmatic soundscape resonates throughout the space, mimicking the otherworldly and disorienting landscape that appears in the newest film work as part of Fireflies, created in collaboration with filmmaker CJ Clarke.

Basu reflects, “there is so much pain, anxiety and fear behind most women I have met in life including, myself. Yet we are strong and magical. I want to celebrate both those dualities” – reminding us of the agency our bodies hold.

Please note some artworks depict nudity and the exhibition deals with sensitive issues including trauma

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EXHIBITION PREVIEw

Poulomi Basu: Fireflies at Autograph

Poulomi Basu, from Fireflies, 2019 - ongoing

Poulomi Basu, from Fireflies, 2019 - ongoing

Poulomi Basu, from Fireflies [detail], 2019 - ongoing

VR Tour of the Exhibition

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.

EVENTS

Speculative Futures

Fri 27 May, 7pm
Poulomi Basu will discuss using female-centred, science and dystopian fiction as inspiration to explore possible futures, in a conversation with Emilia Terracciano.

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Mothers' Tongue: Spoken Word Evening

Thu 19 May, 6pm
Save the date for a special Thursday Late opening to join us for an evening of spoken word performance.

Read more | Book tickets

Exhibitions Opening night


Thu 3 March, 6pm
Join us to celebrate the launch of two powerful new exhibitions at Autograph's gallery in Hackney.

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YOUR VISIT

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Everyone is welcome at Autograph. We care about our visitors, staff, artists and community, and have measures in place to help ensure a safe visit for everyone. Have a look at our Visit Us page, it has full information about Covid-19 safety and accessibility at Autograph.

film viewing

There are two film works in the exhibition, each lasting 15 minutes and on a loop.

ACCESSIBILITY

FACE COVERINGS

Help us keep everyone safe. If you are able to, please wear a face covering during your visit.

SAFETY MEASURES

Accessible VEnue

Autograph welcomes people with all types of disabilities.

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accessible Toilets

Each floor has an accessible toilet. All toilets are single-occupancy and unisex.

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Step free

Our building and entrance is step free. A wheelchair accessible lift goes to all floors.

also on at autograph

Sutapa Biswas: Lumen

Free exhibition, 4 March - 4 June 2022
Where history has often marginalised the female voice, Sutapa Biswas’s newly-commissioned film Lumen reinstates it, not just as mainstay of family and home but as avatar of social conscience.

Read more

discover more

The Enduring Legacies of Women's Trauma

Poulomi Basu discusses Fireflies and her creative practice with Autograph's Bindi Vora

Read

Fantasy Through a Feminist Lens

Artist Poulomi Basu speaks with Bindi Vora to explore notions of trauma, self-care and worldbuilding in her work Fireflies

Read

residency

One of Autograph’s core aims has always been to enable artists to develop their practice. In January 2020, we sent Basu on the Autograph / Light Work residency to support the creation of Fireflies. Her residency was part of our annual partnership with Light Work in Syracuse, New York – a non-profit, artist-run organisation providing direct support to emerging and under-represented artists working in photography.

In June 2021, we accessioned 22 works from the series to Autograph's Collection of Photography.

Share your thoughts

Can you spare a few moments? Autograph is carrying out a survey to better understand who our digital audiences are. The survey should take no longer than five minutes to complete. Anything you tell us will be kept confidential, is anonymous and will only be used for research purposes.

The information you provide will be held by Autograph and The Audience Agency, who are running the survey on our behalf. In compliance with GDPR, your data will be stored securely and will only be used for the purposes it was given.

You can take the survey here. Thank you!

supported by

Additionally supported by Beyond Print

Banner image:  Poulomi Basu,from Fireflies [detail], 2019 - ongoing. Exhibition preview images: All images courtesy Poulomi Basu. Other page images: 6) Poulomi Basu, photograph by Maria Lax. 7) Autograph, London. Photograph by Zoë Maxwell. 8) Poulomi Basu, from Centralia [detail], 2019 - present. 9) Poulomi Basu at Autograph's gallery in Hackney, London.

All images by Poulomi Basu are © and courtesy the artist.