RJ Melodee : Keeping with the theme of this year, a group of photographers based in the Bengaluru came together to depict what life looks like to live with MS and the emotional impact it can have on people with MS (PwMS).
The objective of this exhibition is to not only capture the emotions behind the condition, but to create awareness about it. The general understanding of MS and how it can impact everyone differently is very limited. MS is one of the most common neurological disorders and causes of disability in young adults worldwide. There are 2.3 million people with MS worldwide. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 31. with around twice as many women diagnosed than men. We estimate that around 2,00,000 MS persons of them are from India. The cause of MS is not yet known and yet there is no cure, though there are treatments available that can help some forms of MS and stop its progression. Symptoms can include blurred vision, weak limbs, tingling sensations, unsteadiness, memory problems and fatigue. MS makes life unpredictable for everyone. Therefore, as it is not a very common disorder in India it is very often mis-diagnosed and there is very little awareness of the same in the Society.
Commenting on the upcoming photography exhibition, MSSI’s WMSD representative Shankar Subramanian said, “They say a picture speaks a thousand words. Through the stories and images, we plan to bring an awareness of MS in a country where it is still difficult for people to come out in the open and share that they have MS. We plan to bring in the empathy required to care and support people with MS.”
A group of 6 photographers from India namely Arun Bhat, Girish Mayachari, Kshithidhar, Punkaj Gupta, Shankar Subramanian & Tanya Raj were given the task of interpreting the photographs to represent the Invisible symptoms. Some photos have been made by PwMS, featuring MS Persons and some photos just have volunteers. One of the youngest photographers on the project, Kshitidhar S, says “As soon as I heard about the project, I was very happy that it was an amazing opportunity to work on symptoms of a debilitating disease i.e., multiple sclerosis. I felt capturing these invisible symptoms would be a great challenge and it would help people know the symptoms through the photographs.”
After the initial exhibition, the plan is to take this forward to other cities in the country as well. During the exhibition, interactive physical models will be created in the gallery for the visitors to experience these symptoms. They will be provided with a sheet where they can tally the photographs with the corresponding symptom. The core objective of this exhibition is to end on a positive note and to showcase that despite all the challenges, the persons with MS always put up a brave fight.