ELEGY FOR THE UNSUNG CUBICLE
This body of work is an exploration of spaces inhabited by the ‘common man’ who makes up the great faceless tide of the Indian middle class. But my idea, unlike earlier explorations, is not to glorify and celebrate the wrinkles on their faces or their worn rugged smiles. The focus is on the aesthetic that emerges out of cheap imitationjewelryor the ‘annually revered’ photo frame – It is the aesthetic of economy that uses very little and yet decorates the same common unnoticed lives in very personal ways.
I have avoided photographs of faces to be able to talk about these people through various seemingly banal motifs such as a pen clipped in their pockets or a faded hairpin and how all these choices add up to their larger choices in life. Facelessness is pivotal to my project because it highlights the apathy of our times that engulfs the individuality of a middle class man. And at this juncture, what speaks for the wo/man are these little details stashed away in private dull corners.
I come from a humble setup – my mother is a home maker & my father is a mid level clerk in a PSU. For me, this essay is an expression of a space that has shaped the broader outlook and many crucial choices of my life. I have only begun to scratch the surface with the photos I present, the challenge lies in being able to aptly articulate the emotional intricacies that converge in seemingly lifeless and highly utility driven objects and preferences that convey something more than a purpose, a lifestyle perhaps that needs to be acknowledged in the humdrum of high art, intellectual frenzies and spiritual pursuits.
(Elegy for the Unsung Cubicle was awarded the India Habitat Centre Fellowship in Photography in 2011)