Theme 2016

if a pond runs dry, no birds…

Muturai, Avvaiyar

The theme for PondyPHOTO 2016 is WATER.

WATER represents the essence of our region, and PondyPHOTO 2016 will celebrate this essence in all its forms.

In the religious and secular traditions of the Indian subcontinent, water is intrinsic to every ritual of daily life, its life giving powers almost unlimited.

Water’s significance in all its forms is reinforced through its presence and representation in much of the regions tangible and intangible cultural heritage accumulated over thousands of years.

Today, climate change, economic development, and increasing human demands are visibly altering water bodies, marking seasons more dramatically, affecting wildlife and human condition, and forcing change. Emotions of anticipation, joy, and relief, experienced as long awaited rains bring renewal and growth, are no often superseded by concern and fear as waters rise or fail to arrive at all, and disasters threaten. New narratives are emerging…



  • NUMBER ONE GLOBAL RISK based on impact on society (World Economic Forum, January 2015)
  • CONTAMINATION of surface water is increasing faster than the measures to control it
  • CLIMATE CHANGE is dramatically affecting water tables, threatening more than 60% of India’s rain-fed agriculture
  • SUPPLY is strained – Only an estimated 25% of India’s population has access to clean drinking water at home. Less than 50% of the population has access to improved sanitation.

Individuals, organizations, and government, are making efforts to educate citizens, introduce better water management practices, and initiate positive change. But, much more needs to be done.

PondyPHOTO 2016 seeks to augment those efforts this year; bringing photographers, artists, and change makers together to share our region’s and our world’s water stories, both of the past and of the present.



PondyPHOTO 2016 aims to increase public awareness of the value and beauty of water in all its forms.

  • Present a uniquely themed and curated festival of the world’s best photography on theme of Water
  • Make art available for all through interactive exhibits, multimedia installations, performance and film, all in public space, in English and Tamil
  • Utilize innovative methods mixing art and education to build awareness of water, and its relative environmental challenges
  • Motivate grassroots positive change through community-specific youth outreach projects



  • Curated and visually impactful photography exhibitions focused on water in its many forms
  • Interactive multi-media installations inviting public interaction, discourse, and participation
  • Workshops, presentations, and discussions involving international change makers working on water issues
  • Films and performances on the theme of water
  • Youth outreach activities aimed at initiating civic responsibility at home



  • 35 international award winning photographers from around the world, recognized by Magnum, World Press, UNESCO, National Geographic and WWF
  • 20 international award winning feature and documentary filmmakers and directors
  • 30 art agencies, galleries, artists, and art professionals
  • 20 national and international agencies and organizations involved in water issues
  • 100 educational institutions for young adults and children
  • Multiple environmental and social scientists, researchers, activists, and professionals



Puducherry, a former French colony, is a Union Territory on the Bay of Bengal coast of South India. Pondicherry, its main city has a population of 650,000 residents, and hosts close to 1 million Indian and foreign tourists annually.

The 5 acre festival site is the original port enclave ‘Old Port’, which has remained largely unused since operations were relocated further south along the coast.

PondyART aims to create PondyPHOTO 2016 as a community festival at this centrally located, but underutilized space, with the support of the Government of Puducherry.


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