Third Place

Portrait of My Mother

Anuj Arora


Portraits of My Mother is a journal of my life, my mother and most importantly, my relationship with her. My mother (Seema Arora) being a housewife for the past 29 years has probably done the same amount of labor for the family since always. The lockdown, the pandemic, and the time spent at home is what made me notice and ponder upon her as anything other than “maa”, other than the part of her identity attached to mine. I saw changes— her white hair, her anxious behavior, and was troubled by how much I had missed while I wasn’t really looking inside my own domestic space. There were regrets which raised questions— why would she choose this life, or did someone else choose this life for her claiming care? I had a million questions running in my head and I didn’t even know where to begin or how to talk to her about them. The domestic sphere is riddled with shadows under which these women spend almost all of their lives, their work often going unnoticed, and everything they do taken for granted. I imagined being in the same position at my workplace, and I was stunned at how difficult and disturbing it seemed even within the realm of imagination. Through these photographs, I am trying to show my own contradictions, doubts, new understandings about my mother as first and foremost, a person; something a lot of us forget to consider about the women in our lives. I am trying to constantly question myself by simply documenting my mother’s life in its pieces; hoping that when I put it all together, the sum will appear larger than its parts.

Anuj Arora is an Independent Photographer based in India. He grew up in Delhi and studied bachelor’s at the University of Delhi. Later he studied visual communication in Delhi. He worked as a graphic designer in Delhi for more than a year before moving into photography. He was mentored by Bharat Chaudhary and Chandan Gomes at Sri Aurobindo Center for Arts in New Delhi where he pursued Documentary Photography. Since 2018 he has been working with several newspapers as an Independent Photographer like The Hindu, Hindustan times and Press Trust of India. Also, he has been documenting issues of Migration in Delhi as a long-term project. His work has been exhibited by Prameya art foundation as PRAF Discover and he has been a finalist of TOTO photography awards 2020. His work has been published in The Curator Mag, The Aliporepost, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, Getty Images, Khirkee Voice (a community based newsletter by KHOJ), Sunday Magazine by The Hindu, Your Shot National Geographic and exhibited at Indian Habitat Center with respect to graduate project.

[ COVID EXPRESSIONS ] An interpretive project that reflects the personal experiences, feelings and thoughts related to COVID-19 and its impact. It may be conceptual or artistic in the approach. Submissions do not have to adhere to documentary principles. Alternate processes and digital manipulations are allowed. Each submission consists of 5 to 20 images. Each participant is allowed to enter up to 2 submissions. The images must be taken in 2019 or 2020.

Judges for Covid Expressions
Anshika Varma
Jiro Ose
Suejin Shin
Khalil Hamra
Rena Effendi