Project Description

Divine Façade


Divine Façade, is a series of scratched and doodled photographic images of the Mughal and pre-Mughal architectural monuments and built heritages in and around Delhi. While the buildings were my operational area, my focus was on the people. My interest was to unveil their relation with the heritage structure. Sometimes, persons who live nearby these locations were my models. At times, I would identify persons from different religious backgrounds from far off places and bring them to the site. In the colonial period photographs of India, architecture is the most popular theme. However, the colonial gaze always gave priority to buildings over people. The popular photographs shot by palace assigned photographers such as Felice Beato (1832 – 1909), Samuel Bourne (1834 – 1912), and John Murray (1837 – 1917), who traveled to India at the turn of the century, are classic examples. These photographs were almost completely devoid of people, creating a vision of the ‘British empire’, without referring to those who lived there. Humans, if any, were reduced to be mere scales to measure up the iconic buildings.

Using the same tool that chisels people out of historical narratives, I tried to provide a different representation – a juxtaposition of architecture with incidents of everyday life. In Divine Facade, the people are in the foreground and the buildings sit almost insignificantly in the background. Often chiseled to make an emphasis. An interruption to the reality, a re-reading of history and a parody of the human experience often misrepresented in beautiful pictures by tourist boards and Colonial photographs. 

The photographs were shot using the medium format Pentax 6×7. 

Divine Façade   |   1991 – 1996   |   120 mm Film Negative   |   Scratched and Doodled Photographic Prints