In a unique project supported by the Terre des Hommes Foundation (Lausanne, Switzerland), the documentary photographer Achinto Bhadra and counselor Harleen Walia guided 126 girls and women through a healing journey of psychological transformation. Achinto's portraits record trafficking survivors' imaginative visions of themselves as human, animistic and divine beings of power, love, revenge and freedom.
The girls and women in these photographs, from 8 to 25 years old, are survivors of trafficking, rape or abandonment, or are the children of sex workers. They have been in the care of Sanlaap, a non-governmental organization based in Kolkata, India. The photography sessions were conducted at Sanlaap's Sneha Girls Shelter.
Through the months of the project, the girls and women were assisted by the counselor to narrate their personal histories, the stories that they wanted to tell the world - powerful stories of disappointed childhood, abuse, betrayal, abduction and finally, slavery in the brothels. Following this, they were guided by the counselor and the photographer to identify an imaginary being into which they most wanted to transform, an empowered physical expression of their sorrow, anger and hope.
The costumes and makeup were created by the girls and women with the artistic guidance of the photographer. The photography sessions were conducted in ritualistic silence, and for a brief time before the camera, each woman and child transformed. The photography project has had a lasting impact on the confidence and self-esteem of the participants - for each, the transformation into 'another me' has become a healing experience. (Excerpt from Women's UN Report Network)
The Saint Louis University Museum of Art's Another Me Transformation from Pain to Power exhibition is supported, in part, by the South Asia Children's Fund. This is the first exhibition of Another Me in the United States. It was last displayed at the European Parliament, Brussels.