6x6 Asia: Second cycle

Meet the latest 6x6 talents from Asia

The 6x6 Global Talent Program recognizes six visual storytellers from six global regions, to highlight talent from around the world and present stories with diverse perspectives. Launched in 2017, the initiative completed its first cycle last year, spotlighting 36 talents from six global regions.

The second cycle began in April 2019, with new talents from Southeast Asia and Oceania, South America, Europe, Africa, and North and Central America announced. We are now excited to present the new talents from Asia, closing the second cycle of the 6x6 Global Talent Program: Debsuddha, India; Deepti Asthana, India; Mengwen Cao, China; Parisa Azadi, Iran/Canada; Santanu Dey, India; and Sutirtha Chatterjee, India.

An international pool of nominators and a selection committee selected the talents. Find out more about the nomination and selection processes.

Debsuddha, India

Debsuddha is an independent photographer based in India.

His project Belonging, initiated in 2020, explores the companionship and psychological struggles of sisters Swati and Gayatri Goswami. The photographer’s elderly, unmarried aunts, who lead socially isolated lives due to the discrimination they face based on their skin color, have been further isolated from their surroundings by enforced government measures against the COVID-19 pandemic. Having observed their struggles since childhood, Debsuddha’s personal visual study shows the sisters’ growing dependency on each other and the impacts of isolation on their mental health.
“Debsuddha's personal project about his aunts has a deep sense of intimacy and depicts universal human connection in a dignified way.” - Showkat Nanda, India, photographer, and 6x6 nominator.

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Deepti Asthana, India

Deepti Asthana is a self-taught photographer based out of Mumbai, India. She worked in IT companies in Delhi and Mumbai, India, and in the United Kingdom before making a career switch to photography. Her work focuses on telling the stories of Indian women, “which have been overshadowed for too long,” she says.

In A Thousand Thorns, she follows Pushpa (25) and Pushta (26), two young women working as forest guards — a typically male-dominated occupation — in the arid region of the Thar desert, in Rajasthan, India. Rajasthan has the lowest literacy rate among women in India and the practice of child marriage is still prevalent. Women are seen as the keepers of the honor of families and communities and for this reason, are often denied opportunities available to men. Patriarchy defines daily life and access to resources. However, as education and technology permeate rural India, the aspirations of women are changing. Through the story of Pushpa and Pushta, the photographer aims to highlight how women across India are challenging gender-defined roles
“In all her projects, Deepti Asthana manages to create a narrative where the color tones fit with the story. Her visuals are challenging and open for interpretations without losing the core of the story. Deepti Asthana's visual style varies from project to project, but is always very coherent and she has a strong sense of the use of color as a part of the story telling.” - Søren Pagter, Denmark, head of department of photojournalism, Danish School of Media and Journalism, and 6x6 nominator.

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Mengwen Cao, China

Mengwen Cao is a photographer, multimedia artist, and cultural organizer, born and raised in China, and currently based in New York, United States. Cao is currently Visuals editor at ChinaFile and project manager for the Photography and Social Justice Fellowship, Magnum Foundation. As a queer immigrant, they use care and tenderness to explore the spaces between race, gender, and cultural identity. As a board member of Authority Collective and a founding member of Chinese Storytellers, Cao is championing diverse narratives and perspectives in the media industry.

Their project Liminal Space explores the mundane beauty of the lives of queer trans people of color (QTPOC). Joy and resilience exist in everyday life and the community happily lives out of the spotlight. The photographer aims to highlight intimacy and challenge the “sensational media representation” of QTPOC lives.
“A former user experience designer, Mengwen Cao isn’t afraid to experiment and weave their photographic projects with moving images, audio recordings, video, and data visualizations. Their work shows their empathetic viewpoint and an interest in pushing journalism in new directions.” - Sangsuk Sylvia Kang, South Korea, photographer and assistant photo editor, TIME, and 6x6 nominator.

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Parisa Azadi, Iran/Canada

Parisa Azadi is an Iranian-Canadian freelance documentary photographer based between Iran and Dubai. In her work, she brings interconnected themes of social issues, gender identity and loss of home to the forefront. Parisa Azadi has worked extensively in the Middle East, South Asia, Africa and the United States, covering social and cultural issues.

The parallel narrative of Ordinary Grief examines the tension of the photographer's hyphenated identity and Iran's faltering transition between tradition and modernity. The project shows a country that envisioned a better future for itself but saw its dreams fade with time. 
“Parisa Azadi is one of the hardest working young photographers I know. She is passionate, engaged, gentle and profound. Her work opens a door to intimate moments that only a trusted person can witness. She approaches these moments with respect and intensity.” - Erika Larsen, United States, photographer, and 6x6 nominator.

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Santanu Dey, India 

Santanu Dey is a visual artist and independent photographer based in Calcutta, India. His work often moves along the intersection of art and documentary and attempts to dive deep into mythology, cultural narratives and socio-political issues.

Lost Legacy explores the social and political condition of the descendants of the Zamindars in the decolonization period of independent India. During British colonial rule in India, the Zamindari System was introduced under the Permanent Settlement Act in 1793. The system rewarded Zamindars as landowners who rented their land to farmers in return for paying a fixed amount to the British Government, facilitating the wealth and power of the colonial rule while exploiting peasants. The Zamindari Abolition Act in 1950, was one of the first major agrarian reforms of the Government of India following independence in 1947. Overnight, the status of this privileged class of society was reduced to that of ordinary citizens.
“Santanu Dey is a photographer who photographs with his heart, who goes beyond what you see with your eyes. He loves to photograph what doesn't exist in reality, he photographs history.” - Saiful Huq Omi, Bangladesh, photographer, filmmaker, educator, activist, and 6x6 nominator.

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Sutirtha Chatterjee, India

Sutirtha Chatterjee is a freelance photographer based in Calcutta, India.

His series A New World is a look at development in India through the lens of the Smart Cities Mission, a program launched by the Indian government on 25 June 2015 with the objective of developing sustainable and inclusive smart cities across the country. The photographer shot the series of images while walking along the boundaries of Rajarhat, a township in Calcutta under development as part of the program. 

In addition to exhibition opportunities, the work of the six talents will also be published and shared on the World Press Photo Foundation’s platforms, including a feature on our online magazine Witness for each of the talents. The 6x6 talents also receive an automatic nomination for World Press Photo’s prestigious Joop Swart Masterclass, provided they meet the nomination criteria.