This series of portraits illustrates a visual documentation of a Korean photographer’s journey in a foreign land during a 21-day stay in the cities of Delhi and Veranasi. The results of the journey are recorded in 35 color portrait photographs. The series reveals the photographer’s daily interaction with local people from various backgrounds such as rickshaw driver, Hindu priest, cook, Baba on the bank of Gange river, men in Chai tea houses and young Muslim women in weavers’ home.
While walking along the roads from 4 AM to sundown nearly every day, the photographer interacts with the place and people in these two cities. The people in the photographs are strangers who simply welcome the photographer to their living space, and without hesitation, allow her to record their most private space as well as their family. Each photograph is taken within 1-2 hours of interaction with the individuals and each of them explains their views about Hindu and Muslim culture, faith, religion, architecture, and rituals through their daily activities.
While Veranasi is mainly known to foreigners for its Hindu sacred sites, by looking closely back out of the alley in these two cities, the photographer finds the visual culture where the lives of Muslim and Hindu communities are blended. Individual interaction with locals gained me access to their home and family history. For instance, a Hindu priest’s family has been occupying the same house for over 250 years, generation after generation.
Luckily, I was able to go inside of some of such Muslim families’ homes. There, walking up to the steep stairways I was led into small rooms filled with young Muslim women and girls as young as 8 years old. They were hand weaving silk sari and scarf. The business was family operated. The handcrafts skills were passed down from father to son, and from mother to daughter. It was a unique experience to see the entire family involved in weaving in small villages outskirt of Veranasi. The photographer’s journey explores different neighborhoods such as Defense Colony and old Delhi, as well as Hindu and Muslim communities in Veranasi. The photographer’s observation of various cultural practices of Indians is colorfully recorded in portraits.
The exhibition is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Sanskriti foundation in Delhi, Arts council Korea, and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Special thanks to Dr. Meraj Hashmi, Reori Takeb in Veranasi for offering his friendship to the stranger.