India is the largest producer of films in the world, but its economic growth has forced some of the country’s smaller, single-screen theaters into decline. Katherine Newbegin, who we first learned about on Beautiful/Decay, started photographing these lost movie palaces in 2010, documenting a once thriving social chapter in Indian cinema’s history. “The fulcrum of the project lies in the exploration of the architecture, which is informed by the human relationships that took place in these spaces, but now only remain in the evidence left behind,” she told ArtStar. “The cinema architecture holds a stifling sense of deadness, as if it were a museum. The lingering chairs, ancient posters, and well-worn furniture act as a conduit into a displaced time.” This process of discovery is crucial to Newbegin’s work. She travels alone to each location, usually discovered by word of mouth, without any knowledge of the theater’s history. For instance, she didn’t learn that the Samrat Cinema I in Jaipur was a porn theater until after photographing the space. See the crumbling beauty of India’s cinemas through Newbegin’s eyes in our gallery. … Read More
If you’ve ever spent any time in India, you’ll know that one of the myriad fascinating aspects of the country is that so many trades that have been automated in the west are still done by hand on the subcontinent. NYC-based photographer Supranav Dash has documented many of these occupations in his new series Marginal Trades, which we spotted via PetaPixel. With India’s rapidly modernizing economy putting many of these trades under threat, Dash’s portraits serve as a record of a disappearing world, as well as beautiful examples of the art form in general. Check out more of Dash’s work at his website. … Read More
These eye-catching images from the photographer Karen Knorr‘s series, India Song, place animals in various sacred spaces across India. Tigers recline on beds or proudly laze like kings amid resplendent settings. There’s a monkey sitting atop an elephant against a backdrop of vividly painted walls, a peacock in a room painted the same shade of blue and green as its feathers, and a variety of other birds – all in domestic, interior spaces, where we’re not used to seeing them. Though Knorr’s photographs (which we discovered at Beautiful/Decay) offer a sumptuous, mesmerizing beauty, it’s hard to tell whether these aesthetically engaging images are perpetuating or critiquing a particular stereotype of India. Is Knorr challenging the West’s exoticized notions of the country, or is she complicit in propagating these ideals? Click through to decide for yourself, and visit Knorr’s website to see more of her work. … Read More
Brooklyn photographer Dan Eckstein captured India’s truck driving culture during two trips through Rajasthan, Punjab, and Haryana. He describes the garish decorations that fill the rigs as a unique form of folk art, sporting glittering, tassel-filled markers that express everything from caste, religion, and Bollywood film favorites. His series, Horn Please, takes its name from the signs plastered across the back of most trucks in India — “a place where lanes are a mere suggestion, side-view mirrors are seldom used and modes of transport range from horse-drawn carts to eighteen-wheel trucks.” Grant Truck Road stretches from Afghanistan to Bangladesh and has become a fascinating hub of roadside culture. Enter the decorated domain of India’s truck drivers in our gallery. … Read More
Kodachrome film, one of the first successful color films in history, was discontinued in 2009, as Kodak recognized that digital cameras were making physical film obsolete. But, before it was all gone, legendary photographer Steve McCurry (who had used Kodachrome in a substantial amount of his work) asked if he could have the honor of taking the last roll. … Read More
Salman Rushdie would be hard-pressed to find a more suitable director for the film adaptation of his beautifully allegorical Midnight’s Children than Deepa Mehta, best known for her Elements trilogy, which confronts traditionally repressed issues in Indian society surrounding arranged marriage, sexuality, and patriarchy. We’re excited about the idea of one of the most acclaimed voices in politically charged Indian filmmaking collaborating with the country’s most celebrated contemporary author. Winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Booker Prize, as well as the special Booker of Bookers Prize, Midnight’s Children has earned status as a modern classic, and although there’s plenty to be wary about when it comes to adapting great literary works to film, this one seems promising. Here’s a quick look (via i09) at a few clips from the forthcoming movie, set to be released this November, and how they fit into the novel’s narrative. … Read More
Fascinated by diversity of the people that he encountered while traveling India by train, London-based advertising and editorial photographer Mark Sherratt decided to turn his fellow riders into the subject of a new series. “Once I got into it, I realized that the trains are such a good microcosm of Indian society,” he explained to us over email. “They are full of the rich and poor, the old and young, etc. They are also a great example of how the society works in general. They are often crowded and hectic, but everything seems to work really well. There is always room for one more, and people are always willing to help you out.”
Despite what you might think, finding willing participants for the project wasn’t a problem for Sherratt. “If anything, people were too excited about having their photo taken,” he says. “They would often get off the train and want to pose for me on the platform, so I would then have to try to persuade them to get back on the train to get the pictures that I was really interested in!” The end result? Surprisingly evocative snapshots of travelers captured during a brief pause in their respective journeys. Click through for a selection of our favorite images from Train, and check out Sherratt’s blog for a behind-the-scenes look at more of his work. … Read More
Last month, we followed the lead-up to the Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project, which saw 14 countries trading culture to create international mash-up parties simultaneously around the world. Along the way, we headed to Thailand and India, to explore the unique culture of each country and document what we found.
The second stop on the trip was Mumbai, India, a city marked by non-stop activity, rich cultural heritage, diverse nightlife, and, of course, a striking divide between the rich and the poor. We were in town during the second anniversary of the 2008 terror attacks in the city, which added gravity to the visit, but the resilience of its residents was both striking and inspiring. … Read More
Editor Paul Duncan’s The Art of Bollywood pays tribute to the Indian film industry’s varied artistry — and it’s not all about over-the-top musicals.
From horror to history, adventure to romance — and with a few unclassifiable choices, like Rocket Tarzan and White Face, thrown in for good measure — the featured selections make Bollywood style accessible in stunning reprints of posters, street displays, and iconic images. More than just a reflection of color-crazed, dance-happy films, these hand-painted works feature a visual language that goes beyond the stories they’re meant to represent. … Read More
It comes as no great surprise to us that Amitav Ghosh thoroughly enjoys his job. His latest book, Sea of Poppies, is a maritime adventure, and pure fun. Ghosh winds wonderfully detailed history lessons into his plots, and often they prove to be his best stories of all. Sea of Poppies is the first installment in a trilogy, but Ghosh shows no signs of getting bored anytime soon. He spoke with us about Russian literature, learning to sail, Melville, and the daily grind of writing… Read More