Indian memories – photofilm

Months and months ago I posted a few images on here which I had dug out of my late grandmother’s photo album, featuring snapshots of their life in India – where my dad’s family lived for several generations until the early 1950s.  Vernacular history is something I find very interesting, so I pinned my dad down a while back so I could record a few of his memories from Calcutta. I just got around to combining these two elements into a photofilm,  which can be viewed over here.

I hope to do something similar with my mum – who had a very different upbringing in post-war smalltown Ireland – at some point but realised the other day that I have never actually seen any family pictures belonging to her. My mission over Christmas will be finding out whether or not any exist.

In the meantime, and speaking of Ireland, the folks at the new multimedia site Storyful have done a generous little write-up on my work. Very unexpected and much appreciated. Slainte and Merry Christmas

detonation: Mumbai

“…then there were those kids, who for reasons unknown to any of us, decided to totally own the event. They would help sort images, put them up, gaurd them, and even they took time to explore the visuals themselves. The audience ranged from curious people walking past, to bloggers, photo enthusiasts, designers or couples looking to do something fun on the weekend.

“In a true Indian spirit, the work cannot be left untouched by the imperfections  in the world. So there were nails piercing the prints, and dirty finger prints giving new interpretations to the images themselves. The way images react to the surrounding crumbling walls or the leaves gave them new meaning. And often a perfect home…” Puneet Rakheja

I’ve been dying to hear how Blow-Up – the Blindboys street photography exhibition in Mumbai – went at the weekend and have finally found some write-ups and a few photos of how it looked. Thanks to Tenzin Dakpa for the image above of my own contribution. Reviews of how it went can be found here and here. Cheers guys!

I love old photos

I’ve spent yesterday recording some of my dad’s memories about his family and his childhood in India, where his family lived for about five generations prior to the 1950s. It was quite interesting to then take a look through my grandmother’s photo albums from the 1930s. I never really met my grandparents but i have spent time in and around Kolkata, where these pictures were taken. So much unfamiliarity and yet it all feels very familiar.

There in spirit…

Excitingly, I have work in a couple of most excellent events this weekend. Disappointingly, I won’t be present at either one….

First off tomorrow (Fri) evening, one (or possibly two) of my pieces are among around 25 slideshows being shown in Life.Still, part of the Bristol Festival of Photography. I know Young Carers Revolution is on the schedule and there’s a chance Zen and the art of Sandcastles could turn up as well. I’m not 100% sure. If you’re based in Bristol please go and have a beer for me….more info at the link above.

Secondly, a set of my Appleby Horse Fair images are being shown at Blow-Up Bombay, a street-art photography exhibition organised by the fantastic blindboys crew on Saturday. Over the past six months, blindboys has organised blow-ups in Bangalore, Paris and Delhi, displaying works from over 25 photographers and 2,500 pictures. On Saturday they take on India’s economic powerhouse Mumbai. I LOVE the idea of this – taking a really diverse group of photographers’ work to the streets and putting it in front of people who wouldn’t normally see it. I just wish I could be there……

As The Times of India puts it:

….In this Bollywood backyard, strewn with papier mâché Greco-Roman pillars and other discarded props that once featured in celluloid dreams, two photographers will set foot on Saturday, armed with cellotape and photographs printed on cheap paper. Together, they will embellish the tattered walls with not just their own works but also those of both established and amateur photographers received over the past few months. Works which, just like the roofless house, are constantly threatened by the oblivion of abandonment.

….The second Blow Up in Delhi’s busiest centre, Connaught Place, which saw about 50,000 visitors in a day and over 30 photographers, also surprised the duo with varied feedback. Cops stared and went their way, a passerby told Mahajan that his work on the melancholic youth of Kashmir reminded him of his own strifefilled days in Jharkhand, beggars tore off some pictures and used them as wallpaper and a paani puri wallah played art guide to some curious onlookers. “It’s this kind of direct connect with art and public space that we are looking to achieve,’’ says Mahajan, adding that most of the pictures disappear on their own by the third or fourth day.

Holi unexpected

I have no real reason for posting these images except that I came across them the other day and writing about portraiture and people’s self-consciousness in my last post made me think of them again. This young girl lives in a shack sandwiched between a railway and the ghats, or riverbank, in Kolkata. It was late afternoon on the day of Holi (March 09), when Hindus throw coloured powers at each other…hence the state of her. What we found curious at the time was the way she held herself. It’s normal for Indians to hold your gaze, unsmiling, while you take a photo of them. But this girl, a rag-picker, held herself with the poise and self-assurance of a fashion model…quite unexpected.