“People of Clay” is a profound inquiry into the essence of identity, set against the historical and cultural backdrop of the Rajbanshis – the so-called People of Clay – in the Indian areas of Assam and Bengal. Through a blend of text, archival materials, and photography, Mahajan unravels the impact of colonial classifications and the danger of cultural oblivion. Rooted in ethnography, mythology and folk songs, the project becomes a vessel for exploring and preserving local heritage.

Mahajan’s approach, interweaving personal narratives with a broader socio-political canvas, invites a reflection on identity, fluidity against the rigidities of colonial legacies. His work, a narrative enriched by love and community engagement, challenges the permanence of imposed identities, suggesting a more dynamic, interconnected conception of cultural lineage.

Bio: Akshay Mahajan (b.1985, India) is an artist who uses photography to explore culture and collective memory. His work examines post-colonial urban and rural landscapes, folklore, and mythologies, highlighting “failed futures.” Mahajan reveals how postcolonial realities are intertwined with pre-colonial histories and the symbolic weight of physical structures in non-Western regions.
In 2023, he was runner-up for the Aperture Portfolio Prize and named Foam Talent 2024-25. His work has been featured in the 13th Bamako Encounters and Encontros da Imagem.
Beyond photography, Mahajan writes, teaches, and curates. He co-founded Blindboys.org to reclaim public spaces for photography and co-curates initiatives like GoaPhoto and Goa Familia, focusing on archiving South Asian and Goan family histories.