For the world, India is a land of many cultures, ethnicities and rituals, each one more fascinating than the last. But there are some smaller communities whose grandeur and importance, through the years, have faded into oblivion. Photographer Sebastian Cortés’ latest show, Sidhpur: Time Present Time Past is an attempt to preserve one such community’s splendour.
Chancing upon the small town of Sidhpur in Gujarat, Cortés immediately became fascinated by its heritage architecture, and, over time, captured the place through his lens. The photographs are striking representations of the grand houses of the small community, complete with vintage furniture and architecture that would remind one of European homes. For Cortés, the town was a great discovery, and is a metaphor for the past and present. It is this very passage of time that he has captured in his images of the Bohra homes.
On Sidhpur: I have always been attracted to cities or towns that have, for some historic, social or economic reason, fallen off the map. Sidhpur emanates the same kind of atmosphere that you find in cities in southern Italy that once had great commercial importance, then history moved on and left them drifting in the indifference of time. It has an added element that fascinates me even more and that is the layering of visual, architectural and symbolic elements that seem to linger in the homes like so many ghosts. The superimposing of influences that speak metaphorically about place and time is interesting.
On his experience: The photographing of women in my images was the singular most interesting process, as it all happened very organically — situations just developed and the images just formed and offered themselves to my camera. I feel a sense of gratitude for the kind welcome and acceptance that the community offered me, giving me the chance to craft a document, a poetic contemplation on this very special and unique community.
Tasveer and Dr Bhau Daji Lad City Museum present Sebastian Cortés — Sidhpur: Time Present Time Past in Mumbai in partnership with Vacheron Constantin and The Singleton of Glen Ord. It is on display at the Special Projects Space, Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai until April 30, 2015.
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