3 years

happenstance

Eyes Don’t Lie

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By an uncanny coincidence, both Prabuddha Dasgupta and his former protégé Bharat Sikka focused their cameras on Goa for their latest photo exhibitions. But while Dasgupta discovers a community teetering in cultural limbo, Sikka finds a very rooted place.

PRABUDDHA DASGUPTA

Q The point of this show?

A To provide an insight into my personal take on a particular community and way of life, at a certain moment of transition in its long history.

Q Why is it called Edge of Faith?

A This, to my mind, is the predicament that the community finds itself in: a fragile and vulnerable place, a sort of crossroads, teetering in cultural limbo between the comfort of nostalgia for the colonised years and the perils of integrating with a modern world.

Q How different is this work from your earlier ones?

A That’s really a question for the viewer. I do different kinds of work, the subject might keep changing, but the sensibility remains the same.

Q Why only black and white photos?

A This has been my preferred language for expression. I honed my skill in that medium and I am comfortable with its nuances. It helps me get to the core of things minus their surface distractions.

Q Is there nostalgia for the Portuguese among Goan Catholics?

A Of course, there is huge nostalgia for the Portuguese years. The elder members live mostly in a sort of suspended zone, holding on dearly to a nostalgic notion of what was.

Q Are they insecure about their future?

A The uncertainty among the older Catholic Goans is understandable. The Portuguese who colonised Goa for 450 years and imposed the Catholic faith were able to do so with a certain ferocity because of the small size of the state. And fuelled as it was by the missionary zeal of the Inquisition, they created a mini Portugal, removed from the mainstream of Indian life. So when they withdrew as late as in 1961, they left behind a community that had little in common with the rest of India.

Edge of Faith, organised by Tasveer, is showing at Gallery Art Motif, New Delhi till 1 November

BHARAT SIKKA

Q Why Goa as the theme of your exhibition? And why now?

A Well, I moved to this village in Goa, I have bought a house there. So I was inspired by the space. It’s an agricultural community and compared to urban spaces, this is a very rooted place. Very organic, alive. Personally too, it was a time of great change. I became a father. All that affected me. So this is a very personal project.

Q You have two exhibitions running almost concurrently. Your exhibition of fashion photography opens next week. Which one would you tell people to go for?

A Both!

Q Not allowed, choose one.

A Well, I would have to say this one [on Goa]. This is fine art and much more personal. The fashion one is more commercial. This one is closer to my heart. But this is unfair, really. It’s like having two movies release simultaneously. Tell me, which director can choose one of his films over the other? That is ten years of my work in fashion, you should definitely go for that too. I would.

Q Is fashion photography art?

A It’s more external, there are too many outside factors involved. There’s a stylist, a make-up person, too many things that are outside your control. This is more personal and arty to me than that. Not to say fashion is not art.

Q You know Prabuddha Dasgupta has a simultaneous show on Goa?

A Oh yes, I have seen it. It’s really good. If I have to compare, I’d say his is more of a documentary project. Mine is more ambiguous, more fiction. You know, I trained under him. I admire his work tremendously.

Q Do you see yourself as an artist or a photographer?

A Oh, I’m into art. My medium may be photography, but I always see myself as an artist. I use photography to create art.

The Road to Salvador do Mundo is running at Nature Morte, New Delhi, till 28 November

Skinny Legs and All will run at the offices of the advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy at B10 Triveni Complex, Sheikh Sarai Phase I, New Delhi, over 2-28 November