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These are from collection of images I had shot on a trip to Egypt more than four years ago. The Medinet Habu temple in Luxor, West Bank, is a monumental structure built by Rameses III.
Having read Norman Mailer’s ‘Ancient Evenings’ in my youth, witnessing in person the war, magic, gods, death and reincarnations; the lust, ambitions, jealousies and betrayals in the land of the dead was indeed a dream come true.
The vivid inscriptions and relief work on the massive walls and columns of this grand monument left me stupefied, maybe even a bit dizzy and disoriented in the arid air of the desert. Like the 700 page book, the stories proved too bulky to both comprehend and digest especially in a quick, unplanned, self guided tour. What I figured is this: you must spend a lifetime in Egypt to really learn, find and absorb all the facts and perspectives, an hour or two is just not enough for a temple this size. An ancient civilisation so grand, mesmerizing and powerful, even a week that we spent in Cairo and here was inadequate.
I decided instead to capture what my eyes were seeing while listening to what was being said by my better informed friends and family accompanying me, not to mention the locals, the touts and the guides who would tag along uninvited.
Before entering the temple we stopped by at a local cafe for a bottle of water. The Egyptian owner, a middle-aged man claimed he was born in one of the courtyards inside the temple. “A brick was used to cut the umbilical cord” he added with a certain brutal look in his eye. His mother would visit the temple to rest inside its cool and airy courtyards he informed us. “Better than any modern-day air conditioner” he winked while handing over a tepid bottle of water to me. Though he left the village as a youngster to find a better life in Berlin, he said the place has a magnetic pull, hence he returned to set up this little cafe at its doorsteps. “It’s special, very special”, he shouted behind us as we made our way to the entrance.
These are a set of experimental photo illustrations/collages I had done for an art competition a couple of years ago. I mixed many photos, (all three are my family at home and/or on vacation) at different moments of time in different places. Garbage dumps, flotsam and other waste are the symbols of our consumerist nature as human beings. Can we help it?
These quasi realistic images are now collecting dust in my hard drive. I had a dream of projecting them on various walls; in a controlled environment of a gallery; on public walls in the streets; in shopping malls as digital screens; even as digital screens jutting out of a landscape or simply junked in garbage dump as an art installation.
What do you think? Are they shocking enough to spread a message if they turned up in any of the above mentioned forms in your neighbourhood? Would we ever be able to give our children the beautiful planet we inherited, or as someone said have we successfully snatched it from them?
The Nilgiri Hills in Tamilnadu have a thick forest cover with tea gardens sharing spaces close to each other. The area is famous for its unique flora and fauna. Late one January morning this year, a Tiger went on the prowl in the area attacking human settlements nearby. It is said to have killed three human beings causing a scare among the daily wagers who mainly earn their living from working in the tea gardens. The first victim was a woman tending the tea garden. This caused a stir among the villagers who were too scared to venture out to work. The elusive tiger continued its rampage over two weeks before it was shot dead after a massive hunt by special task forces.
This picture is from a trip to a forest reserve in the vicinity a month before this happened. Ironically we were there to sight a tiger but were not that lucky. In retrospect, maybe that was a good thing.
For those of you interested in this bit of news, here are some links:
A photographic experiment of ‘inside’ juxtaposed with the ‘outside’ in a contemporary home with large glass doors. Ended up looking like multiple exposures :-)
Though the challenge is about smart cropping techniques that change the way we interpret a photograph, these pictures are exactly the opposite. Call me ‘old school’ but one of my earliest lessons in photography taught me to frame ‘in camera’ and the lesson has stayed with me ever since. Those were days when analog photography made shooting a hundred random photos expensive and wasteful. Life was a lot slower then, of course. I wonder how greats like Henri Cartier Bresson would respond to this challenge in a manic digital age like ours.
I think framing perfectly in camera is far more challenging. You must be a keen observer with predictive qualities of a tennis player to know when to hit the shutter. Hence, I don’t have a before/after series. The before is in the after, as I offer a perspective on architecture from a distant past.This is a set of photos I had taken on a trip to discover Mogul architecture. The grand scale of the Fatehpur Sikri & Agra forts offer wonderful insights into ‘perspective’ as visualised and executed by artists way back in the 1500′s. Though the structures are built on principles of symmetry, they’re hard to capture so perfectly symmetrical! After all everything was hand-cut/hand-made. The geometry is fascinating. You see it in the calligraphy, in the mosaics on the facade, on the columns, the balconies, in fact in the architectural plan itself. I hope these perspectives tell an engaging story.
I have no idea why I never grew into Penguins. Am so hung up on my Ladybirds (for every age and every stage)! I went all the way to a wildlife resort in Masinagudi, Tamilnadu to capture these instead of a wild boar or a tiger as I was told, but never found.
If you’ve grown up on Ladybird classics as I have, you can imagine why I went so far to find the real one.