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Photography in India is a paradox. There are ample commercial opportunities, but not a single school devoted to the medium. So, for the people of the world’s seventh largest country — with a population expected to overtake China — choosing a career in photography means either learning on the job or studying outside the country.

“There is very little discourse,” said Sunil Gupta, an artist and the lead curator of this year’s FotoFest International, the first and longest-running worldwide photography biennial, which opens March 10 in Houston. “There is no classroom situation, no discussion, nothing in print, nothing to be involved in some kind of critique.” There are a few photo courses at the National Institute of Design, known as NID, in Ahmedabad, but Mr. Gupta said “you can count them on one hand.”

Yet, with the largest diaspora in the world — at over 15.6 million according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs — many Indian photographers already reside outside of the subcontinent. That led Steven Evans, an artist and FotoFest’s executive director and head of programming, to choose India and its diaspora as the theme for the 2018 biennial. FotoFest is also publishing an accompanying book, “India: Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art.”

Steve Banerjee, the founder of Chippendales, at his club in L.A. in 1987. From the series “The Indian Émigrés.”CreditPablo Bartholomew
“Serenity in his Sleep 1,” 2010. From the series “Visitor.”CreditNandini Valli Muthiah
“Quickgun Murugan.” From the series “ManiFest, 2012.”CreditIndu Antony

“We’re known for bringing recognition to photographers from parts of the world that have been underserved by people looking at photography,” Mr. Evans said. “So, in the past, the biennials have focused on photography from Russia, China, Korea, Latin America, the Arab world. And this year we are looking at artists of Indian origin.”

By “Indian origin,” Mr. Evans means any artist with a connection to India. Almost all of the work was made after the year 2000. “It’s not about India the place,” said Mr. Gupta. “It is more about photography by people of Indian origin, who live in India or elsewhere.”

“Ghosting,” by Roshini Kempadoo, is a mixed media narrative influenced by Langston Hughes, Roy DeCarava, and Deborah Willis that “incorporates the historical traces of Trinidad and its interconnectedness to Britain, India, and West Africa, evoked through the plantation landscape as a legacy of slavery and indentured servitude,” according to the artist’s statement.

From the series “Ghosting, 2004.”CreditRoshini Kempadoo
“Wife,” 1993. From the series “InterSect.”CreditPrince Varughese Thomas/Courtesy of Hooks-Epstein Galleries, Houston
“War Paint,” 2001. From the series “An Indian from India, 2001-2007.”CreditAnnu Palakunnathu Matthew/Courtesy of sepiaEYE Gallery, New York

In “An Indian from India,” Annu Palakunnathu Matthew — an artist and photography professor at the University of Rhode Island — plays on the word “Indian”by combining archival images of Native Americans with new self-portraits.“When I say that I am Indian, I often have to clarify that I am an Indian from India,” Ms. Matthew said.

FotoFest’s original focus on South Asia comes a decade after India’s art market emerged slightly, but then dwindled, mostly because of the global financial crisis. But last year, according to Artnet, 62 percent of India’s 48 or so galleries reported an increase in sales last year, albeit with help from the country’s general economic improvement.

“We are seeing photography in India, certainly in art context, more and more,” said Mr. Gupta, who is also an artist. “Already we have a kind of emerging art canon.”

“Untitled,” from the series “Jannat, 1999-2007.”CreditGauri Gill
“Return,” 2016. From the series “The Hotel.”CreditTenzing Dakpa
Children playing outside a relocation colony. From the series “Muzaffarnagar, 2013-2014.”CreditAsif Khan

Many collectors and visitors of this year’s festival are expected to be part of the larger diaspora and based in Houston. Mr. Gupta noted that some of the artwork is politically charged, addressing issues regarding this nation’s turn to the political right, which some Indian-Americans support.

“There is a tiny pocket of work in the show that addresses the land and displacement of indigenous people,” aid Mr. Gupta.”

The festival also features videos and multimedia pieces, which might help new collectors of Indian origin who are accustomed to paintings and sculptures accept the idea of limited editions instead of a single object, something that Mr. Gupta said was a problem when photography first hit the Indian market.

“I hope it’s going to encourage people to look at this region more carefully and become better acquainted with it for a variety of reasons,” he said. “The standard history of photography seems to be an American idea and there is very little else except a European or Japanese contribution.”

“The Slave and her Slave (After Ingres),” 2009. From “The Harcourt Set,” with Studio Harcourt, Paris.CreditPushpamala N.
“Untitled,” 2012. From the series “Friends and Their Friends, 2010-2015.”CreditAnoop Ray
“Noon I,” 2009. From the series “A House is not a Home.”CreditHemant Sareen

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