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Posted at: May 13, 2018, 2:34 AM; last updated: May 13, 2018, 2:34 AM (IST)

A future where lines of existence blur

When five young photographers look at the architecture around them, here is how they interpret it

Amit Sengupta

Vanishing Line,  a photo show by five young  photographers at the India International Centre (IIC) in Delhi, explores the subliminal architecture and zigzag time and space of urban geography, juxtaposed by the rapid changes in modernity’s chaotic designs, where the rural often becomes a jigsaw  puzzle with the urban. The city and the countryside move in tandem in a jarring synthesis, like a record stuck in its own, unoriginal musical groove. The photo show, sponsored by the Neel Dongre Awards, Grants for Excellence in Photography and India Photo Archive Foundation, has been showcased by IIC. It has been curated by two eminent names: Aditya Arya, veteran commercial and travel photographer, and Parthiv Shah, filmmaker, photographer and graphic designer.

Urban villages move into the labyrinth of the rural archive, as architecture and shared spaces. They merge and blur into each other, smelling of old mud and haystacks, their lanes full of old and new memories. Indeed, the lines vanish only to reappear. The cow in the city, facing the turmoil of seasons, eating non-biodegradable substances — glass, plastic, bones, polythene, garbage, creating traffic jams, worshipped as holy cow, forever left to its cruel fate. Sometimes, in the eyes of a photographer, they become political cut-outs, caricatures of the fanatic mythology of contemporary times.

The inner lanes of Mumbai which are eye-witnesses of the old heritage of Bombay protect themselves from the chaos of commerce, with their cocooned silence, sometimes surrounded by trees, sometimes by high-rise building, the smell of the sea making air corridors in the bylanes. Will they survive, will they be ravaged?

Gurgaon just can’t handle its own present predicament, as it moves into future imperfect. Skyscrapers hanging like trousers in a row, alien, alienated. Shopping malls and commercial complexes look down at civilisation with an impersonal and concrete inhumanity — unable to tackle its own internal dynamics. Can they too survive their bloated infrastructure in the days to come?

Khirki Village in South Delhi, next to the old Khirki Mosque, has suddenly become home for Rabindranath Tagore’s Kabuliwallah. Afghans have made their residence on earth there, and, as they love Indians for centuries, the Indians too have come to love them. They have become like graffiti on the walls, their bread softer than their smiles. Time seems to be repeating itself in these vanishing lines of migrations.

The last two double-decker buses in Trivandrum. The first was brought in 1938 from London by the King of Travancore, as a royal carriage. Now, the last two run on the streets of this lovely city of Kerala, resurrecting fond memories of the past, refusing to enter the oblivion of the future.

Writes Aditya Arya: “The grant is driven by the idea of supporting young photographers interested in the genre of documentary. It’s a celebration of the communicative nature of this medium and a tool for creating visual narratives. A documentary photographer has a huge and responsible role in society. I firmly believe they create histories by documenting traditions and constantly evolving societies and their work has a great place in the archives, being a witness to the process of change. In an age where new inventions and new technologies of mass production are being announced every minute, it is essential to document the great traditions and craft of the past for posterity.”

The young photographers who have showcased their work in the photo show are Amruta Dhawale, Arindam Thokdar, Lokesh Dang, Sidharth Behl, Surabi Janardhanan and Syed Adnan Ahmed.

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