The inaugural grant was awarded to ZhaZo Miachieo. He has worked with India Today and Hindustan Times as a photo journalist. ZhaZo now lives and works in Nagaland. His work on the magic of the daily life of his land and people caught our imagination. Photographer Dinesh Khanna, Artist & Educator Ayisha Abraham were the jurors. Photographers Kavir Rai and Harsha Vadlamani were the other nominees for 2020.
ZhaZo is, what thinks of as a natural and instinctive photographer. One who is more interested in what is natural for him, rather that what he is expected to engage with. In essence, his photographs are an extension of how his lives in his world. This is what propelled him away from his job as a Photojournalist in a big city, which would actually be a dream come true for any young person, and made him return to his roots and homeland Nagaland. I found this extremely interesting and brave of him. Also the fact that he wants to tell the story of contemporary Naga life from the inside, for all its everydayness, ordinariness and not just as the exotic and unusual, is a project worth supporting and, i believe, the grand should be awarded to him to pursue this straightforward narrative and honest story.”
A quiet strength resides in Zhazo’s work. His photographs have the power to draw a viewer into their reality very gradually. The people he photographs rarely look directly into the camera. Instead, they inhabit a space in the image that makes them both present and absent at the same time. It is almost as though they have the ability to disappear just as easily as they appear on the light and dark surfaces of the printed paper. Zhazo’s work conjures this magic of photography in the way he seeks out his subjects and in the way he gives them a voice without ever making a big statement.