Photos lay bare India’s urban life

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TO NDR Chai1

THREE respected KwaZulu-Natal photo-graphers, who found themselves touring India a while back, have brought home a taste of the country through photographs to be seen in a free exhibition, Life and Death Between Chai, that starts today.

The photographers are Kevin Goss-Ross, Caitlin Fay Smith and Gareth Bright, all of whom Goss-Ross describes as “three very different people with very different styles and perceptions”, which, he says, has resulted in a fascinating body of work.

“In the space of eight months we found ourselves in India by chance. All three of us felt a special affinity and connection to this magical country and especially so to the holy city of Varanasi – one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

“After realising we had all travelled to and produced work in India, we decided it would be special to have the collection in Durban, which has the highest concentration of Indian people outside of the sub-continent,” explained Goss-Ross.

The collection comprises almost 100 prints and is on display at The Factory Café (Columbo Coffee, 369 Gale Street). To add to the evening’s entertainment Durban musicians Matt Vend will sing songs that have been inspired by Asia.

“Matt was in India over the same period as the photographers and even wrote a song about the Old City for the exhibition,” said Goss-Ross.

“Gareth’s work, all shot in Varanasi, is a contrast between life and death in a place where death is as commonplace as the cows that roam the streets in the Holy City. Once you get over the ‘in your face presence’ of death, life becomes the spectacle. The work is shot in black and white.

“Heavily inspired by the works of Peter Beard and an internship with Philip Blenkinsop, the works often become worked pieces with handwritten text to engage the viewer and allow them to interact with the photographer’s personal experiences.

“The entire body of work was shot over five weeks in The Holy City in March/April this year,” he said.

Of Smith’s images, he said: “Caitlin’s photographs were shot across India. Primarily in black and white, the photographs are rich in narrative and comp- lement the rest of the exhibition by being softer and more caring than Gareth’s and my work.

“My images for this exhibition consist of 38 artificially lit colour portraits of Indian locals shot within three weeks in January.

“The majority of it was shot within four days along the banks of the Ganges River in Varanasi. The use of an artificial light source meant a lot of interaction between the myself and the person being photographed,” he added.

• Life and Death Between Chai opens on today at The Factory at 6pm. Entry is free.


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