Serena very sensitively, almost invisibly, without intrusion walks her viewers into an all- encompassing portal that reflects the many manifestations of the lives of her subjects, the people and places that she is moved by. High-contrast, formally composed black-and-white images that combine portraiture, revealing interiors and mystifying exteriors to tell intimate stories of her subjects is her signature style of photography. Her zeal and enthusiasm for travel also allows her to capture some of the most striking wildlife and landscape moments.
She extensively traveled throughout Bhutan for over a period of twelve years, the outcome of which was three strong bodies of work, Bhutan: A Certain Modernity, Bhutan Echoes and The Ancients: Bhutan Diaries.
“Having endured the harshest conditions traversing through the remotest regions of the country to meet and interact with our people, she has written with deep insight and love of the places and people she has met and developed a great affection for them. From Laya in the North to Merak Sakten in the East, from Haa in the West to Samchi in the South, Serena has left a trail of friendship and goodwill. …Her accounts of the way of life in different parts of Bhutan, our ancient traditions, culture, our spiritual heritage have been beautifully and endearingly recorded with her sensitive heart and through her photographs."
-- DORJI WANGMO WANGCHUCK, Queen Mother and President of the Tarayana Foundation of Bhutan
The first body of work on Bhutan led to solo shows in New Delhi, Bhutan and New York. A monograph of this work was published in 2007. On home ground, she has explored and delved into the life and times, truths and realities of resident Tibetan exiles who have made Majnu Ka Tila, their home away from home in Delhi. The Tibetan exodus of 1959 has culminated in more than 100,000 Tibetan refugees in India. Tibetan Buddhism stands to be wiped out along with its message of peace, happiness, and equality for all. Chopra has photographed and interviewed individuals, coupling image and text in a diary-like format, revealing the population’s views on life and a communal optimism that one day they will return to Tibet. This body of work has been exhibited at group shows in New York and most recently at the in Houston.
In 2010 she visited the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar where she met Sagar Puri Ji, a young 19- year-old Naga Sadhu. Intrigued she spent time with him, seeing the Kumbh Mela through is eyes. They kept in touch over the years and she photographed him extensively. She went back to the Ardh Kumb in Varanasi in 2013 and continued her portraiture series of Sagar Puri ji. In 2016, she produced a selection of the photos as a picture notebook, Along the Ganga, under the banner.
She was commissioned to participate in a group photo exhibition at the in 2013 that focused on showcasing the remnants of the French heritage in India. For this project Serena chose Chandernagore, a former French colony located about 35 kilometers north of Kolkata, in West Bengal. She once again met and interacted with the residents of erstwhile 200-year-old palatial homes that had withered with time. Her personal interactions led to her forming bonds and discovering the sentiments of the locals. She photographed them against the backdrop of their historical past.
In 2017 invited her to do a body of photographs for the upcoming in Amritsar. She travelled to Amritsar and many towns and villages in Punjab along the India and Pakistan border to shoot photographs and collect stories of the Partition. Nine photographs of this body of work are a permanent installation within the archways on the museum façade inaugurated on the 70 th anniversary of The Partition of India and Pakistan. She continues the photo project as The Tale of Time Diaries that includes the diaries where survivors have written and shared their experience of 1947 and their feelings today. The work also includes photographs of memorabilia that some refugees came away with. Most Survivors escaped with nothing but their lives.
Serena Chopra resides in New Delhi, India since 1969.
Bhutan: A Certain Modernity
Sunderam Tagore Gallery; New York, 2007
PhotoInk: New Delhi, 2007
Folk Heritage Museum; Thimpu, Bhutan, 2007
Travel Photo Jaipur Festival; Jaipur India, 2016
Tasveer Arts, Bangalore, India, 2016
The Harrington Street Arts Centre; Kolkata, India 2016
Pundole's, Focus Festival, Mumbai, India, 2017
NID, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, India, 2017
Bikaner House; Delhi, India 2017
Majnu Ka Tila
Face Off, sepiaEYE, New York USA, 2016
FotoFest 2018 Biennial; Houston, Texas USA, 2018
Eye-to-Eye Visual Arts Gallery, New Delhi India, 2004
Delhi Photography Festival, Women Photographers from SAARC Countries Italian Cultural
Center, New Delhi India, 2005
Photographing the Street: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and
Sri Lanka, 2011
France Heritage, Bonjour India Festival, New Delhi 2013