Capturing a diverse picture

Cheerful artiste
Last Updated 25 August 2015, 18:31 IST

The City has enticed many artistes from other countries to come and capture its diversity, whether it’s through photographs, paintings or songs. But there are only a handful who have captured all of it in its purity — the story of the people narrated by the people themselves. One such art afficionado, who has seized the first-hand experience of the women in the City, is Sabine Felber.

A sociologist and photographer from Germany, she has worked with ‘Blank Noise’ to reflect on the safety of women in public places, as part of Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan’s ‘bangaloREsidency’.

With her project ‘See my story’, which has four digital stories and 21 self-portraits, she has launched a unique platform for women in Bengaluru. Principals of schools, design students, street vendors, homemakers — she has put together all their experiences in the City, mainly of their travels on public transport, in their own words, without any external influence.

So what provoked and motivated her to come to the City to do such a varied project? She says, “It is mainly after the Delhi rape case. This became a major issue in Germany as well and there was extensive media coverage on the same. People were really shocked and I think even the perception of India changed there after this disgusting event and the following issues.”

She adds, “In the media, it is the reporter who tells the story. It is interesting in a way, but I would love to hear it from the people themselves.” This is what inspired her to work on self-portraits. She explains, “I took care of the technical stuff and a bit of background setting for the photographs. But, when they had to click the picture, they were alone with the remote control in their hand. They did not have an opportunity to double check how they looked. It is their picture. The identification of the picture is much higher when you take it yourself.” The same method was followed for the digital stories, where three women and a man speak about their experiences in the City.

Sabine came to Bengaluru only for this project, but it did not stop her from exploring the City thoroughly. From north to south, she has been “all over the place”, including Yelahanka, Cox Town, Cubbon Park and the Lalbagh Botanical Garden. She has even seized the stories of people who she met on the streets during her exploration.

She says, “The people are very welcoming. I did not meet one person in Bengaluru, in seven weeks, who was not that way. I met them on the streets while walking around and looking for something, appearing a bit lost. There were motorists who stopped and asked, ‘What are you looking for?’ I would explain, and they would reply with, ‘I bring you’. I would then jump on the motor cycle, and they’d take me where I wanted to go.”

Calling herself a “big fan” of the City, she says the biggest highlight is “its people”. While the traffic can be a pain, she excitedly says, “The people and their style is amazing. The City is really happy. In Germany, people are preoccupied with what is going wrong. Here, there are a lot of things that are going wrong, nevertheless people are warm and funny. They are always laughing.”

A big fan of Indian food, she adds, “I love the diverse pots they serve with vegetarian meals, along with rice and ‘daal’. I even love the fluffy breakfast (‘idli’), it is delicious. I haven’t eaten something that I did not like!” She ends with, “I will take back home the people and the many friends that I have made here. I am blown away by the welcoming people.”

(Published 25 August 2015, 14:25 IST)

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