Indian photographers may well be the ideal detector of the country’s reality, of the recent economic, social and cultural transformations, which India has gone through since 1950. After “Snapshots of China”, the series is the second instalment in a collection about countries that are changing rapidly: India, Iran, Brazil, Indonesia… where native photographers focus a sensitive gaze on their own society – immersing us in their countries’ here and now.
Diabolically photogenic, India has long appeared to the Western eye draped in the somewhat fetishized aura of a mystical, colorful country of highly contrasted extremes. The epitome of exoticism, post-colonialism and romanticism, its economic development could only be dazzling; its poverty, picturesque and its landscapes, eternal.
Over the past few decades, development and evolution have been gaining ground everywhere you look in this vast country – a democracy since 1950. India is bursting at the seams. It has a population of over a billion inhabitants, half of whom are under 35. It innovates, exports its engineers, and now has more billionaires than China. And with all those consumers and potential consumers, it has been investing in real estate and leisure activities, and is starting to lift some of the social restrictions it inherited from a still very conservative society.
Indian photographers are the obvious choice as eyewitnesses to these myriad economic, social and cultural transformations. India and Indians are starting to look at themselves in a different light, through the work of several groups of contemporary photographers.
These films open windows onto pioneering photographic work being done in today’s India. Which means that this time, we aren’t going in search of a fascinating, distant and spiritual world; instead, it is coming, endowed with new representations of itself.