Portrait of an urban village

In photographs

Portrait of an urban village

With all the debate surrounding Hauz Khas, its rise from an urban village to a hub of eateries and stores, and the environmental damage caused thereby, this photo exhibition couldn’t have come at a better time.

As part of the ongoing Delhi Photo Festival, Printer’s Devil photo gallery is holding A Summer in Shahpur Jat - an exploration of the village through a series of environmental portraitures by French photographer Philippe Calia.

Calia has innovatively captured shots of residents of Shahpur Jat – village men, store owners as well as employees at such stores – in the backdrop of the fascinating landscape of the village. It is akin to several urban hamlets in and around Delhi which have seen a peculiar pattern of development giving rise to small farms, cowsheds and grain mills sharing space with uber chic fashion stores, art galleries and discotheques.

Philippe Calia says, “Earlier this year, I received an enthusiastic call from Printer’s Devil informing me that they had acquired a large format camera and wanted me to spend some time making portraits of the people of their neighbourhood with it. During this summer, I would then become familiar with the physicality of a 900-year-old farmer settlement which now boats of a perplexing
diversity.”

“Shahpur Jat has a unique mixture of rural lifestyle and traditions with the upcoming trends of contemporary India. A microcosm, in which all its coexisting elements, as aloof from each other as they may look, are in the end greatly interdependent. With this project, my aim is to produce a powerful documentation of an area which is undergoing change at an extremely rapid pace.”

So photographs with the most interesting human compositions and even more interesting names come up. A store attendant sits inside his shop wearing a look of longing. It is titled Thang 02.07.13. A chaiwallah exudes a look of pride as he attends to a customer in his stall. It is called Raju 27.07.13. There is also the photograph of tattoo artist Akhui from the North East posing in his studio which says Akhui 04.07.13.

The old character of the market is portrayed in an image titled Anil 04.07.13 where a man from the Panwar community, which previously inhabited Shahpur Jat, is seated next to his boxer dog at the entrance of a building. In Jagdish 25.07.13, a popular pass-time of this area is shown - playing cards in a park on a summer afternoon.

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