'How the other half lives'

'How the other half lives'

Fine eye

Photo exhibitions explore many themes but this is one exhibit which will appeal more to your intellect rather than be serve as a visual delight.

Caught Men go out to work but it is women who brave a lot of problems like shortage of water, unbearable heat and more.The Society of L­a­b­o­ur and Development (SLD) - an organisation working for the welfare of labourers is holding an exhibition portraying the living conditions of factory workers in Gurgaon. Very aptly titled How the Other Half Lives, the exhibition is being held, ironically, at Ambience Mall, Gurgaon till June 1.

These 20 pictures, have been taken by employees and interns of SLD at different points of time like Florian Lang, Rakesh Singh and Shena Gamat, as well as professionals like Ankur Ahuja. Taken between 2009 and 2011 in various workers’ settlements in Gurgaon and adjoining areas, these pictures  reveal a side of the millenium city rarely seen and explored.

As Anannya Bhattacharjee, Secretary at SLD explained, “Gurgaon is a city with 1.5 million people, 24 shopping malls and two worlds.

“One world buys products in the new state-of-the-art shopping malls while the other world produces these products in nearby factories. Many workers in Gurgaon are poor migrants coming from as far as Bangladesh and Nepal in search of work but never get to savour the fruits of success this city enjoys. They work long hours, are paid poorly, exploited and suffer substandard living conditions but inspite of these difficulties carry on with life bravely.”

“Life in the urban slums in Gurgaon is vibrant with busy activities of workers, friendship and laughter and at the same time the poverty is palpable. Walking around these areas one gets a mixed sense of disquiet as well as admiration for the resilience of the inhabitants. It is this life that we wanted to capture in camera and bring together in this exhibition, so that people are made aware of the realities of today’s globalised society and understand the intricate layers of the society we live in.”

A majority of the photographs belong to Ankur Ahuja and Florian Lang.

Ankur, a cinematographer says, “During my work with SLD, I travelled far and wide to document the living conditions of workers in Gurgaon, Manesar, Kapashera and some other areas. There, I found the lives of the women especially, deplorable. The men go out to work but the women have to brave a lot of problems like shortage of water, little food, the unbearable heat in the slums etc.. So, you will see a lot of portraits of these women in my photos.”

Florian Lang, a German national, who interned with SLD during his studies on labour rights, says, “The children also have to bear a lot along with their parents. The garbage and filth around in slums has a la­sting impact on their health. Also, the dingy one-room accommodations can be very suffocating. One of my black and white photographs shows a small little boy sitting in one such room with the TV on. In a lot of ways, it is symbolic for me, as the room has no windows at all, but the TV is the window to the outside world for the child.”

He adds, “We come across many such narratives in film, TV serials and books, but to view them personally is an altogether different experience. I urge all to come and view these moving photographs. It might just open your eyes to how the other half lives.”

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