The beauty of old vintage cars parked around the capital city takes centrestage in I Once Was Alive, Shahid Datawala’s latest exhibition of black and white photographs
Shahid Datawala is a man of many talents. The 41-year-old’s body of work spans photography, furniture design, product design, jewellery making, graphics, fashion design and installations. He has also been based out of various cities, including Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai (where he currently resides).
Untitled images from the collection by Shahid Datawala
His latest exhibition, titled I Once Was Alive, features 32 images of old cars lying around all over Delhi. This is being showcased at Gallery 7 as part of the Focus Photography Festival. Datawala’s tryst with this theme started in 1994 when he was shooting at Delhi’s Connaught Place. “I noticed old cars lying around, and one specific car caught my eye.
I decided, many years later, that I would do something along these lines. In 2001, I revisited my idea and went on a hunt to look for these old cars. I shot all over Delhi for four years, so, it was an ongoing process. I did a body of work of almost 85 images and this is how my journey commenced.”
Elaborating on his collection of images, he says, “The cars belong to various people who have a strong emotional connect with them and do not want to get rid of them. They have disintegrated and become a part of the earth. Each image has a distinct story and therefore, it’s about storytelling and short stories within the images.”
Shooting the images was not without peril. “Many cars were parked in private spaces and many times, I had to smuggle my way into these places. I even got locked up for trespassing. But it was never unethical; so, according to me, I was only paying my respects and therefore, my trespassing was justifiable,” he reasons.
Datawala philosophises that while the city may be constantly changing, the beauty of these images of cars is that they will never change. “They (the cars) will always be a part of the city as they have been parked in same spaces for 30 years. No change affects them.
Over several decades, the face of Delhi has changed: the Metro has come in, the city has progressed in terms of infrastructure, overall looks, etc, but nothing fazes these cars or changes their standing position, be it on the road or in society. These cars were there, are still there and will always be there,” he observes.
Till: April 15, 10.30 am to 7 pm, Monday to Saturday
At: Gallery 7, Oricon House, 12/14 Rampart Row, K Dubash Road, Kala Ghoda