The uncomfortable habitat
It’s only in a work of art can you expect life being breathed into the dying. Shovan Gandhi, a Delhi based photographer, in his work Alang has done just the same. Being a part of the bigger picture - Pix - a photo quarterly, Gandhi has portrayed Habitat through this endeavor along with fifteen other artists.
Alang is a journey of ships, starting from the day they are born to the waves they crash and land to their graveyard and even beyond. It tries to encapsulate the experiences the ships go through throughout their life and finally end up in this ship breaking centre in Gujarat. He compares, not the life of a ship to that of a man, but vice-versa. One cannot ignore the idea glaring through his pictures that each man-made thing has to come to an end. Once worn out, nothing can keep the drums rolling, or here, the ships sailing. Though ‘philosophical’, it asks the question of death and birth; of waste from value and conversely.
Alang also portrays the journey, its end and a new beginning. The lines by T. S. Eliot, 'What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from,' fits Alang beautifully. It shows not only how the once mighty ships sailing the economies of the world come to rest in peace, but also how their end marks a new beginning for scrap collectors. For truly, there never is an end.
The project has attracted various view points from various fields of ecology, architecture and finance. Not being faced with a criticism yet, Shovan has tried to highlight the prevailing socio-cultural ecosystem in which, according to him, 'unimportant men can aggregate and die so that dead ships live.'
Drawing influence from architecture and fine art, Gandhi wishes there would be more platforms in the country for display of photographs and art. He expects to present a new project in the following year.
WHERE: Goethe-Institute, Maxmuller Bhawan, New Delhi
WHEN: When: 9 to 16 May, 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm