The overwhelming story of Chanderi silk is symbolically represented in an ongoing exhibition here under the Neel Dongre Grants for Excellence in Photography.
Photographer Bharat Tiwari, the Founder of Shabdankan.com, which was awarded the "Bhashadoot Samman" by the Hindi Academy for reinforcing Hindi through the digital media, brings alive several unknown facets of this age-old tradition in his exhibition of photographs.
Tiwari said that he was deeply touched by the lives of the handloom weavers that he came across in Chanderi, a small picturesque town in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh.
Chanderi Silk is world famous but this town is one of the few places left where handlooms -- a tedious and dying sari-making technique -- is still used to make silk fabric.
Tiwari's project "Silk routes via Chanderi" attempts to unravel the various shades and intricacies that go into the making of Chanderi silk. Represented with extreme sensitivity, these photographs sort of transports the viewers to the setting where the various craftsmen are at work.
When he first visited the small town, Tiwari said he was awe-struck as well as equally pleased to see the generosity with which they work.
"It is not an easy task. They are dealing with silk and as such there is no room for error. I was so moved to see the way they work -- in their homes, with the participation of almost all members of the family -- that I began to capture the various scenes on my camera. It was a magical experience for me," Tiwari told IANS.
The photographer also expressed his concern, saying that with the advent of power looms, the profession is changing fast as more and more weavers are being attracted towards it. But Chanderi is still caught in its old-world charm and the future of weavers appears gloomy.
Tiwari's work is represented along with Mrigank Kulshrestha, Ankit Agrawal, Taha Ahmad and Vikas Gupta in a collaborative photography project under the aegis of Neel Dongre Awards/Grants for Excellence in Photography (2017) by India Photo Archive Foundation.
Curated by photographer, historian and archivist Aditya Arya, the works of all the five photographers bear witness to the skills, some of which are fading away or are being rendered obscure for various reasons.
"A documentary photographer has a responsible role in the society. I firmly believe they create histories by documenting the traditions and the constantly evolving societies and their work has a great place in the archives being a witness to the process of change. In an age where new inventions and new technologies of mass production are being announced every minute, it is essential to document the great traditions and craft of the past for posterity," curator Aditya Arya said.
The crafts and traditions documented by the five photographers traverse various parts of the country, and various kinds of skills that require the dexterity of hands and sight and a fair amount of patience and commitment to the art form.
The Neel Dongre Grants for Excellence in Photography were launched in the year 2012 and are aimed at creating a visual platform, where emerging photographers get an opportunity to showcase their work to a relevant audience, receive funds to support their projects for the growth of their passion.
The exhibition is on at the India International Centre till May 2.
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