A meditation of love

Visual Narratives

It’s a different kind of storytelling and this time through photographs by writer Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi’s ongoing photo exhibition ‘Postcards from the Forest’.

According to Siddharth, the pictures displayed at the exhibition are a meditation of love and its absence. In 2009, after the end of a friendship, Siddharth moved from Bombay to Matheran, a forest town of 5,000 inhabitants. From this solitary reflection emerges eerie and evocative photographs accompanied with stories of the writer’s experiences. “I wanted to be away from the disquiet of Bombay, which had come to fail my expectations. It was visually ugly, conversations with people were deathly boring and politics was a farce.

I decided to move to Matheran, where the photographs came about from a desire to write to my friend and to speak of my new life in the forest,” explains the writer-turned-photographer.

Siddharth offers a window to the viewers to draw their own conclusion. The show’s second part, a collection of 99 little photos titled, ‘The Toy Train’, is a set of notes addressed to the artist’s friend.

So what prompted him to pursue photography besides writing? The author believes that photographs tell a story in their own words. “It’s a different kind of storytelling.

The photographs are another kind of novel,” he adds. Siddharth further dismisses the notion that pictures are more expressive than words. “No. It’s really about the skill in either writing or photography that matters,” he explains.

The exhibition portrays Matheran differently as against the city of Mumbai that Siddharth captured so tellingly in The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay (2008). His debut novel The Last Song of Dusk (2004) received critical acclaim and won the ‘Betty Trask Award’.

“I am taken aback by the beauty of these pictures. These images create a visual illusion that’s exceptionally unusual,” says novelist Vikram Seth--a friend of Siddharth who had also come to see this exhibition.

Aparajita Jain, director Seven Art limited says, “This is a really strong show with a singular vision, and I immediately responded to its haunting mood of nostalgia and lament. Siddharth is an exciting new voice in conceptual art and brings his strengths as a novelist to narrative art and we are delighted to host ‘Postcards from the Forest’.” The exhibition is on till March 14 at the Seven Art Gallery.

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