Capturing moments of Sufism
‘Everything in the universe is within you. Ask yourself everything,’ says photographer Shivani Das. This splendid quote by Rumi has stayed with Shivani all along. ‘I have always been intrigued by Sufism and its mystical ways. I wanted to provide a visual language to the quest for this path and this is what I have attempted through Violet Dreams,’ says Shivani.
The exhibition has photographs which are best described as personal expressions of faith. ‘My aim is not to present people with postcard images of the dargahs I visited, but to capture suspensions. Each photograph concentrates on the pause between calm and madness, faith and doubt, suffering and ceremony,’ she remarks.
Shivani’s tryst with photography began as a child when she came across a Leica camera in her grandfather’s cupboard and insisted to be shown how to use it. Years later, she picked up this camera and began capturing her surroundings. She has since then come a long way in her pursuit of the art.
‘My understanding of the philosophy of photography comes from the ambience I have grown up in and also from professional training. With encouragement from my mother, it was natural for me to imbue nuances of the art at a young age,’ says Shivani.
The 28 photographs at Violet Dreams are a byproduct of extensive research and her trials and tribulations while wandering in places far and wide. ‘I traveled for seven months to nine Sufi shrines across the country. These included Khwaja Moinuddin Chisthi’s Dargah in Ajmer, Dargah Hazrat Tawakkal Mastan in Bangalore, Yousufain Sharifain in Hyderabad, Nagore Dargah in Tamil Nadu, Makhdoom Ali Mahimi’s Dargah in Mumbai, Mira Datar’s Dargah in Gujarat and the Delhi dargahs of Hazrat Nizamuddin, Matka Pir and Hazrat Sarmad Shaheed. I also attended the World Sufi Music Festival that takes place every year at the Nagaur Fort in Rajasthan and Baul Music Festival that is held in Kolkata to hone my understanding of the faith,’ says Shivani. Violet Dreams’ is her second solo exhibition.
‘Each photograph has a story behind it and is an impression of the vastness and the shortness of the distance between the physical and spiritual realms, of different portrayals of faith,’ says the 28-year-old.
At: Alliance Francaise, Lodhi Road
On till: 31 August
Timings:10.30 am to 6 pm