It shall be high wedding season in North America shortly, but throughout South Asia, weddings are celebrated year-round with much pomp, even if the circumstances are mundane and replayed ad nauseum for both participants and attendees. Recently, Tasveer Journal featured the work of Mahesh Shantaram, a self-described “cubicle-bot” who left the Beltways of Washington, D.C. to study photography in Paris and later, work as a wedding photographer in India. Through the course of his work, Shantaram recognized a full-fledged allegory for the tenuous and unfolding middle-classes of the subcontinent.
Everything that’s great about our country and everything that’s wrong with it can be summarised by a single wedding. Today, I’m able to express that more sincerely through this long-term project that is evolving into a form of visual poetry rather than a hard-hitting critical essay. Matrimania is the ‘dark’ narrative from a world that I’m very familiar with. It helps me balance the ‘sweet’ narrative that I construct in service of clients. That balance is necessary to preserve one’s view of life.
To read more about Shantaram’s work, as well as view a few images from Matrimonia (which will soon be developed into a documentary), click here.
The Yamuna river flows in northern India, starting at the Yamunotri Glacier in Uttarakhand and streaming down towards towards Delhi. According to ancient Hindu scriptures, the banks of the Yamuna flourished with a steady population living peacefully. Now, those same banks are relatively staid until one reaches the national capital, where a twenty-two kilometer stretch is rife with industrial waste and pollution. Despite government attempts to clean it up, this portion of the river continues to degrade, but not necessarily wither away. Indeed, there are people at work and play here, and photographer Surender Solanki captures these moments with sensitivity and appreciation.
Solanki has traversed this polluted corridor ever since he was a child, going back and forth between west and east Delhi. A recent art school graduate, Solanki does not own a camera but has nevertheless managed to gather 15,000 images over the course of eight months. The intimacy of his portraits, as well as the spontaneity of respective riverside inhabitants, are a testament to ingenuity and practicality. You can view a selection of his portfolio in the February 2014 edition of Caravan here.
Photo of a housewife (right) and her servant (left) by Jannatul Mawa
Jannatul Mawa is a photographer currently living and working in Bangladesh. Prior to this, she has spent years as an activist working on behalf of greater gender equity. Her photography focuses upon ordinary lives and interstitial spaces. In Close Distance, she documents the tenuous position of maidservants, women typically employed by the middle-classes and beyond, to help with general household chores on meagre wages. Seated side by side, employer and servant, these images emphasize the awkwardness both parties feel in such close quarters, so very similar and yet so many worlds apart. Mawa writes: “Every day, maidservants take care of the bed and sofa with their hand but they are neither allowed to sit nor to sleep on them once. WIth their domestic role, they are ‘close’ to the middle-class women and ‘distant’ at the same time.” See more here.