Poulomi Basu is an Indian transmedia artist, photographer and activist. Her name sounds like ‘follow me’ with a ‘P’.
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.
Poulomi is forever in awe of the resilience shown by those in extraordinary circumstance, by those who are bent but not broken.
She created Blood Speaks to utilise the power of photography and visual storytellng/activism to result in tangible social change and amplify the voices of women from the majority world.
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 specific 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 significant 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 Refinery29. 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.
In 2019 Amnesty International noted her as an important and brilliant “human rights activists breaking the taboos surrounding menstruation” and violence against women.
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.
She is visiting lecturer for the Visible Justice & Collaborative Unit at the London College of Communication.
Poulomi is on the jury for the Photographic Museum of Humanity Grant 2017 Next Generation Prize and a nominator for the British Journal of Photography’s “Ones to Watch.”
Poulomi has also undertaken the 'Reporting in Crisis Zones' hostile management training at Columbia School of Journalism, kindly supported with a bursary from the Rory Peck Trust.
Clients & Publications
The California Sunday Magazine, Financial Times Weekend Magazine, The Guardian, Le Monde, The Washington Post Magazine, VICE, BBC, Google, RSPCA, WeTransfer, Time Lightbox, Days Japan, Monocle, NPR, Grazia France, Paris Match, Stiletto, Courrier International, The New York Times, Marie Claire Italy, Monopol, Nido, The Sunday Times Magazine, Elle, Guernica Magazine, Action Aid, Water Aid, Save the Children, UNESCO, The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Standard Chartered Bank.
Nominated Prix Pictet Award 2019
Longlisted Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2019
Shortlisted: Sheffield Doc Fest Alternate Realities Commission Award 2018
Selected: Sheffield Doc Fest Alternate Realities Meet Market 2018
Winner: PH Museum, Main Grant 2018
Shortlisted: Tim Hetherington Trust Visionary Award 2017
Shortlisted: IDFA 2017
Winner: Magnum Emergency Fund 2016, with the support of the Prince Claus Fund
Selected Sundance New Frontiers Lab 2017
Shortlisted: Catchlight Fellowship 2017
Nominee: Foam Paul Huff Award 2015, 2017 & 2018
Finalist: W.Eugene Smith Grant 2016
Winner: Magnum Foundation Human Rights Grant, What Works 2016
Second Place: Firecracker Grant 2016
Selected Magnum Foundation Photography Expanded Immersive Media Lab 2016
Asia Society, China File Grant 2015
Flash Forward Tenth, Best of Magenta 2014
Dali International Photo Festival, 2nd Place, 2013
Foto Visura Award Second Place 2013
Winner: Magnum Foundation Award: Human Rights Scholarship Magnum/NYU 2012
Winner: Magenta Flash Forward UK 2013 & 2010
Selected Belfast Photography Festival 2011
Selected - Foto8 Summer show 2011
Selected Winner, 15 Asian Women's Showcase by Yumi Goto, Angkor Photo Festival 2010
Finalist Inge Morath Magnum Award 2010
Finalist: Best in Show - Foto8 Summer Show 2010
Finalist: Ian Parry Award 2010
Firecrackers Female Photographers Now, 2017, Thames & Hudson
A Time To See, The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust/Impress, 2016
Hungry Still, QUAD/FORMAT/SLIDELUCK, 2014
Who is Looking at the Family Now?, Mothers of ISIS, London Art Fair, UK, Jan 2019
Blood Speaks, Margaret Mead Film Festival, American Natural History Museum, New York, USA, Oct 2018
Blood Speaks, Cortona on the Move, Italy, July-Sept 2018
Just One Inch of Water, RNLI, UN Headquaters, July 2018, New York, USA
Centralia, Getxo Photo, Spain, Sept 2018
Blood Speaks (preview), FORMAT Festival, UK, March 2017
What Works, Magnum Foundation, Bronx Documentary Centre, New York, November 2016
Women in Photography, Magnum Foundation, Objectifs Gallery, Singapore Photo Festival, October 2016
Human Rights Watch Fundraising Exhibition, Sydney, Australia, April 2016
Time to See, House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, London, January 2016
Time to See, Australia House, Australian High Commission, London, November 2015
Time to See, St. James’ Palace, London, October 2015
To Conquer Her Land, Beijing Art Biennial, October 2015
A Ritual of Exile, Tbilisi Photo Festival, September 2015
To Conquer Her Land, Half King Gallery, New York, May/July 2015
A Ritual of Exile (projection), Lodz Photo Festival, Poland, June 2015
Time to See, Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting, Geneva, May 2015.
Voice of Tacitness, Hong Kong International Photo Festival, 2014
Change the Record, Glastonbury Music Festival, UK 2014
To Conquer Her Land, Dali International Photo Festival, 2013
To Conquer Her Land, Yangon Photo Festival by Alliance Françoise de Rangoon, March 2011
The Foto8 Summer Show, Host Gallery in London, July/September 2011 & 2010
To Conquer Her Land, Belfast Photo Festival, August 2011
Magenta Flash Forward group show featured exhibition, Toronto, October 2010
Foto8 Awards group exhibition at Crane Kalman Brighton, September 2010
'Travel Log' Projection group exhibition, Paraty Em Foco, Brazil, September 2010
To Conquer Her Land, The Ian Parry Award group exhibition, The Getty Gallery, London, August 2010
‘Inside/Out’, group exhibition exploring gender, The Strand Art Gallery, Mumbai, December, 2009
To Conquer Her Land, The New Gallery, London College Of Communication, December 2009
War, Art and Visual Culture Symposium, King’s College London May 2019
Visible Justice: Embodied Activism, London College of Communication, May 2019
Blood Speaks: Agency, Voice and Gender, SXSW, Austin March 2019
Keynote speaker, Blood Speaks: Agency, Voice & Gender, National Museum of Wales, UK Jan 2019
Royal Photography Society (RPS), Inaugural Women in Photography Lecture, LCC, October 2018
Blue Earth Alliance, Collaborations for a Cause, Seattle 2017
FORMAT Festival UK - talk and panel discussion alongside Martin Parr and Hester Keijser
National Geographic Annual Seminar, Washington DC, January 2016
UN Young Changemakers Conclave, Bombay, January 2016
Images and Ideas – Fred Ritchin, International Centre of Photography, New York, January 2016
Unearthed: The Rape in India Project, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, December 2015
Photography and Human Rights, TISCH School of the Arts, NYU, New York, May 2015
Half King Photo Series, conversation with James Estrin, New York, May 2015
Photo Forum UK, panel discussion with Anastasia Taylor-Lind and Jessica Crombie, London, July 2014
BA Documentary Photography, London College of Communication, London, October 2015
A Ritual of Exile, Water Aid Headquarters, London, May 2014
Artist Talk, Delhi Photo Festival, October 2013
Women in Photography, with Michelle Sank and Jenny Mathews, Falmouth University, Falmouth, February 2012
PRI’s The World: Paradise Lies at the Feet of Your Mother: The Mothers of Foreign ISIS Fighters
PRI’s The World: Transformed From Women to Border Guards
DW.DE Worldlink: Politics, Power Identity