Interview with Ali Choudhry for 2022 CCP Summer Salon
Photography by Ali Choudhry
Ali Choudhry is a Pakistan-born photographer whose practice explores our relationship with ourselves, each other, and the world around us. Ali uses minimalist compositions and subdued colours to truly invoke "breath" to all images.
We sit down with Ali to unpack the story behind the series "In Essence / In Form" and understand how Ali uses photography as a medium for understanding philosophy.
What's your name and background?
Ali Choudhry: My name is Ali Choudhry and I was born in Punjab, Pakistan. “Punj” means fives and “aab” is water; very loosely translated it’s the “land of the five rivers”. Coming from this very humble agrarian background, I’ve lived in several countries. Much like the rivers, I kind of just flow everywhere, belonging nowhere.
In terms of photographic background though, I’ve been doing this for many years now. Recently I finished a BA (Honours) at RMIT.
I’ve had opportunities to show work at both public and commercial galleries. Most recent of which, for this year at least, has been at the Centre for Contemporary Photography's (CCP) Salon; of course for which Milieu is a sponsor. But also at MARS in Windsor as part of Photo 2022, Incinerator Gallery in Moonee, and Monash Gallery of Art (MGA).
I’m always open to opportunities to show work or teach workshops or engage in public speaking.
What is the story behind your submitted works?
AC: This series of images, “In Essence / In Form”, is a part of a larger body of work where I’ve worked with dancers to explore this idea of identity formation. Bodies are imaged as abstracted, distorted, and blurred—but even through these types of obfuscations, the different dancers’ personalities and styles are still communicated through the images: some are very controlled and reserved whereas others are full of energy and chaotic.
What does photography teach you about how to live?
AC: Broadly speaking, I’m interested in human nature and how we tend to relate with ourselves, with the world around us, and with one another. In a sense, I’m more interested in philosophy—how the world works—and I use photography to explore and work through these ideas. Photography is a means to these relationships.
Which is stronger to you the influence of people or the influence of place?
AC: My work is almost always made with an intended audience in mind. I always tend to keep this imagined audience with me—how they might think or feel or do when engaging with my work. It almost doesn’t matter what I’m photographing: but rather, for whom. So people are definitely the stronger influence on my work.
Has your use of social media changed or influenced the way that you create, share or view your work?
AC: I’m of the age where we only really had Facebook—and even then, you needed a university e-mail to make an account. And now there are so many options. To be honest, I still don’t know what a tick tock is. But seeing this thing become less social and more media (and advertising) has been disheartening, to say the least.
What I’m trying to say is, I don’t use social media much—in the sense I don’t follow a strict schedule or post often or do a lot of the things you ‘need to do’. One thing I have started doing for about the last two years, which has worked for me, is to instead share what I’m doing in the real world. For example, if I have a show coming up or if I’m teaching a workshop or giving a talk somewhere, I’ll put that on Instagram and invite folks to come engage in the real world: be social, less media.
Do you have an Instagram or website where people can view or purchase your work?
AC: I do indeed! My website is www.alichoudhry.com. I only offer postcards and have a few copies of my book left in my online shop. If anyone is after prints, I’d be happy to chat further via e-mail. My Instagram is @ali.choudhry.photo
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