States of Matter

WHEN photographer Bharat Sikka became a part of FOCUS Photography Festival, which is on till March 27 in Mumbai, he was clear about not doing a gallery show. "I wanted the show to be informal," he says. True to that, his day-long pop-up show at Mehboob Studios, Bandra, on Wednesday had select images from his series titled Matter pasted on its ivory walls while a part of it doubled as a studio. In the evening of the show, guests became participants, with Sikka photographing them. "Some of these images will become part of the next Matter show, which is a work-in-progress," he says.

The 39-year-old has been working on this series for nearly two years. "It is more like my journal of everyday life. This is my perception of what's going on in the country — documenting what normal people don't take note of. Though the photographs featured in this have been composed, they are much more candid and fluid," says Sikka, who wants to show India in a different way from what others have done so far. Some of the striking, also varied, images on display have an abandoned car in a garage, dusty Aristocrat briefcases, a dead butterfly, pigeon trapped in wires and the landscape of Ladakh. He wants to continue with the project for two more years.

What makes Sikka's India different, apart from his perception, is his monochromatic palette. "Stereotypically, when one thinks of India, the images that come to mind are bright and colourful. My photographs are in colour but they appear black-and-white," he says. Most of the images have been taken in and around cities. At times, they have come after a wait or during a trip. For instance, he photographed Delhi during winter to capture the greyness while Ladakh gave him an opportunity to capture the whiteness of the landscape. "More than the photographing technique, it's the content that matters," says the photographer.

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